No campaign counted on rural votes but early exit poll suggest they didnt swaying their way
Ruth Shaw was one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Irish voters who flew home or bided home, cancelled vacations or came back early, so they could cast a vote to end Ireland’s decades-old prohibition on abortion.
They supposed their votes might be needed to tip the balance. In the end, though, they joined what seems to be an unforeseen landslide of support for change.
The first exit poll, from the Irish Times/ Ipsos MRBI, showed that Dublin, as expected, had voted overwhelmingly for yes. But so too did rural areas, which the no vote had counted on to kind a bulwark of conservative is supportive of Ireland’s restrictive status quo.
” It’s great for this country, we need to step into the next century ,” said teacher Caroline Ryan, one of the first to referendum but confident even at 7am that the repeal would pass.” Every other country in Europe has access to abortion .”
The vote was a reminder, she said, of the church’s loosening grip on a country where a series of scandals, involving child abuse and mistreatment of pregnant, unmarried women and their children, have enormously undermined the clergy’s authority.” Women have been treated so badly in this country by the Catholic church ,” she added.
Voters had to help Ireland decide whether to keep a clause in its constitution, known as the 8th amendment.
Since 1983, it had set the” right to life of the unborn” on an equal status with the life of a pregnant girl, underpinning a near-total ban on abortion in Ireland, even in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality. It is one of the strictest defined of rules in the western world.
For Shaw who, along with 20 family and friends had flights lined up to go to a wedding in New York when the date was defined, there was no question about what to do.
” We changed our flights ,” she said.” It’s really important; I’ve got two daughters .” So at 6.55 am she was waiting with nine-year-old Simi outside Our Lady’s Clonskeagh Parish secondary school, second in line to cast her vote before heading to the airport.
On a day of glorious sunshine and heightened feelings, polling stations across Ireland reported high turnouts for a ballot that politicians and campaigners concurred would determine a hugely emotional issue for at least a generation.
Polls constricted in the run-up to voting, with the outcome widely expected to depend on the one in six voters who were still undecided on the eve of the poll. Many in the no camp were convinced they had a groundswell of quiet support.
” So many no voters are shy ,” said Fidelma, 45, a Dubliner who said she was wearing a no badge for the first time and was astonished to determine more than half her office of 10 people offering her support.
She had kept her positions private until the working day of the referendum because there was so much social pressure in the capital to support a repeal.” People attain us feel like we are backwards and don’t count ,” she said.
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