Polls close in referendum on Eighth Amendment

Polling stations to remain open until 10pm

Colin Gleeson, Sorcha Pollak Fri, May 25
 
LIVE: Polls close in referendum on Eighth Amendment

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  • 06:57

    Good morning lovely voters and welcome to our Irish Times live coverage of referendum day. Sorcha Pollak here keeping you up-to-date with all the latest news of the votes across the country as the day progresses.

    Please get in touch with any stories, tweets or photos that you’d like to share on the blog. You can contact me at spollak@irishtimes.com or by tweeting @SorchaPollak.

    It’s just about 7am now which means voting time is here so grab you passport/driving licence and get down to your local polling station. They will remain open until 10pm tonight.

  • 07:08

    The dos and don’ts of voting today

    Many people have spent weeks canvassing for this referendum, handing out badges and t-shirts on both sides of the debate. It’s important to remember NOT TO WEAR your merchandise to the polling station. While wearing badges and t-shirts with a Yes/No on them is not strictly prohibited, it’s up to each individual returning officer to decide what is allowed and what is prohibited. Therefore it’s probably best to leave the merch at home.


    Also, no selfies in the polling booth/station! Photography and videography is banned in order to protect the secrecy of the ballot box and your vote.

    Most importantly, make sure you remember to bring a form of ID – a passport, driving licence or work card ID. You will be asked to state your name and address on arrival at the polling station. You also should have received your polling card by post in recent weeks and this should be brought to the station.

    Your ballot paper will be stamped and then you must enter the booth and indicate whether you approve of the proposal. You must mark an ‘X’ in either the ‘Yes’ box or the ‘No’ box on the ballot paper.

    The polls will open at 7 am and close at 10pm.

    Finally, no campaigning allowed outside the stations. It is illegal to campaign or canvass within 50m of the polling station and this includes posters or literature.

  • 07:09
    FYI, the count will take place from 9am Saturday so the final result will be known later tomorrow.  
  • 07:12
  • 07:15
    Plenty of offers out there for those in need of a lift to the polling station  
  • 07:31
    Voters are still arriving into Ireland from around the world  
  • 07:39

    Still undecided?

    You still have time to sit down and read through facts around this issue. I’d advise taking half an hour to read through Sarah Bardon’s well thought-out, clear and concise run-down of what this referendum is about and how it will change our legislation.

    Sarah talks through the background of the 8th amendment and article 40.3.3, what the citizens’ assembly decided and the conclusions of the Oireachtas Committee.

    She also runs through what kind of abortion restrictions are in place in other countries and explains the background of abortion pills.

    Seriously, I cannot stress this enough, these are FACTS. Facts are how you make an informed decision. Sarah is not trying to sway you one way or another, she’s just spelling out what this vote will mean. So take a read, have a think and then go cast your ballot.


    Follow this link to read through Sarah's explanation of the vote.  

  • 07:49

    Still undecided?

    My colleague Sarah Bardon has taken the time in recent weeks to wade through the mountain of slogans on posters, billboards and campaign pamphlets to provide clarity around the claims and call out an misleading, incorrect statements. If you’re still unsure how to vote and feel bombarded by the statements coming from both the Yes and No side read through some of our Fact Check articles.

    For example, one of the claims is that abortion law in Ireland will be as liberal as the legislation in Britain.

    Sarah writes: Abortion in the UK is permissible under 1967 Abortion Act. The law allows for terminations up to the 24th week of pregnancy when two doctors agree that continuing with the pregnancy would involve a risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family. This is referred to as Ground C.

    It also allows for abortions when there is a risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.

    Terminations are also available when there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be “seriously handicapped”, as is stated in the legislation.

    Abortions are lawful when a mother’s life is at risk, when there is a risk of grave permanent injury or when there is a foetal abnormality identified beyond the 24th week of pregnancy in Britain.

    Opponents of repeal of the Eighth Amendment refer to the fact that 97 per cent of abortions in Britain occur under Ground C. However, it is important to state 92 per cent of terminations take place within 13 weeks of pregnancy; 81 per cent of these occur under 10 weeks of pregnancy.

    The verdict: The claim is untrue


    For more of Sarah's fact checks, follow this link

  • 08:01

    Voters with visual impairments to use `tactile voting’ system for first time

    Voters who are blind or visually impaired will be able to vote in secret by themselves for the very first time today following the introduction of a new tactile voting template.

    Previously people with sight loss had to vote with a friend or get help from a presiding officer which meant their privacy was compromised. There was also no way of verifying whether the person assisting them had actually marked the ballot paper in the way they requested. Thankfully this ends today and the more than 54,000 people with sight loss in Ireland will be able to vote privately just like the rest of us.

  • 08:04
  • 08:06
  • 08:08
    Posters continued going up overnight. My colleague Aine spotted this one in Castleknock, Leo Varadkar's constituency.
  • 08:14

    Where are the facts?

    I’ve already directed you to Sarah Bardon’s comprehensive overview of what this vote will mean. However, if you want to completely avoid the media, take a read through the Referendum Commission website. It explains, without bias, how you need to vote today and what a repeal of the 8th amendment would men.

    As Chairperson of the Referendum Commission Isobel Kennedy puts it: “The Referendum Commission does not campaign for a yes or a no vote, but we do strongly urge you to inform yourself and to use your vote.   How you vote on this issue is entirely a matter for you to decide, but it is important that you take the opportunity to use your vote.”

    Click here to check out the refcom2018 website

  • 08:23
  • 08:25
  • 08:36

    The biggest questions from the referendum campaign answered


    The Irish Times has put together a Q&A to try and answer the biggest questions that have been circulating throughout the referendum campaign. Here’s a few of the most important to help you with your vote today...


    What is   the Government proposing to do if    the amendment   is repealed?


    In the event of a Yes vote, article 40.3.3 would be removed and be replaced with an enabling provision stating: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.”


    The current law remains in place until any new legislation is passed by the Oireachtas. The Government is proposing it be replaced and has published the general scheme of a Bill.


    In what circumstances would abortion be available under the proposed new legislation?


    Under the Government plans, terminations would be accessible within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. A woman would seek a termination from a medical practitioner, who would have a legal obligation to discuss the woman’s options with her. A three-day waiting period will then be enforced. After that, the woman can have abortion if she still intends to terminate the pregnancy.


    Will abortions be available after 12 weeks?


    In very specific circumstances, yes. If there is a risk to a woman’s life or of serious harm to her health, two medical practitioners will be asked to determine if an abortion should be permitted.


    Terminations in these instances will not be carried out beyond viability, which is reached at 24 weeks. In the case of an emergency, one medical practitioner will be permitted to perform an abortion if there is an immediate risk to the life of the pregnant woman, or of serious harm to her health. There are no gestational limits applied in these circumstances.


    Abortions will also be available if a woman is informed that the foetus will not survive outside the womb or will die shortly after due to a fatal abnormality.


    Will there be late-term abortions?


    Beyond the 24th week of pregnancy, there will be no abortions except in the cases of fatal foetal abnormalities or when there is an immediate risk to the woman’s life or health. No gestational limits will apply in these circumstances.


    Will the health service have the capacity to provide this service?


    The Government has insisted it will provide financial resources to provide terminations in the event of a Yes vote and that it will enter into a period of consultation with medical representative groups.


    How will Ireland's abortion regime compare to the rest of Europe?  


    Ireland, Northern Ireland, Poland and Malta the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. If the legislation is passed, Ireland will be in line with 20 other European countries in allowing access to terminations up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Romania, Spain and Iceland allow for access up to 14 weeks; Sweden permits access to abortion until the 18th week; while it is lawful until the 24th week in Britain and the Netherlands.


    If there is a No vote, what happens?


    The current situation remains.

  • 08:45
    Presiding Officer Carmel McBride and Garda Alan Gallagher carry the polling box on Inishbofin off the west coast of Ireland yesterday. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne - Pool/Getty Images
    Presiding Officer Carmel McBride and Garda Alan Gallagher carry the polling box on Inishbofin off the west coast of Ireland yesterday. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne - Pool/Getty Images
  • 08:50
    I feel I should reiterate this one more time
  • 08:52
  • 09:04
  • 09:13

    Personal stories have played a huge role in both sides of the debate in this campaign. My former Irish Times colleague Davin O’Dwyer and his partner Aoife Walsh wrote in the New York Times earlier this week about their own recent encounter with the 8th amendment.

    A few months ago the couple were told after the 12-week-scan of their first child that her condition was “incompatible with life”. They began making arrangements to travel to England for an abortion.

    “We felt an acute anger that we had to plan a surreptitious trip, that we had to leave behind our caring doctors and midwives. The sense of enforced furtiveness was degrading, a result of the shame that surrounds the journey. When we were at our most vulnerable, having to make these plans was an added torture.

    “As the day of our departure approached, one of us, Aoife, suffered an intense panic. The prospect of the procedure was daunting enough; the prospect of checking onto a plane, booking accommodations, all of it, was just too much to bear. We didn’t make the journey. We couldn’t.

    “Instead, we gave Cara her name – in Irish, it means “friend” – and decided to embrace the time we had with her.  For nearly two months, between getting the diagnosis and her death, we got to see our daughter grow in weekly ultrasound scans, we got to hear her heartbeat, we got to see her move. We made memories. We became a family.

    “We decided not to go to England, and it was the right choice for us. We are grateful for the time we had with Cara, and we are proud to be her parents. But it isn’t the right choice for everyone in that situation - other parents, acting out of a sincere love and concern for their child, might make a very different decision.

    “Our heartbreaking experience taught us that such a decision should never be shrouded in shame and stigma. This referendum is a chance for everyone in Ireland to leave such shame and stigma behind. We have, instead, the opportunity to replace them with trust and real empathy.”

  • 09:15
  • 09:21
  • 09:31

    Another personal story from the referendum campaign, this time calling for a No vote.

    Anne Mulligan from Letterkenny gave birth in 2006 to her son Liam who was born with the rare but serious genetic condition Edward’s syndrome. Liam survived for two months, five days and 40 minutes.

    “The individual who was our son, who is our son, he lived, and even though he was just a small little person for over two months he lived a very full life and by his very condition brought loads of people in to us,” says Anne.

    Anne and her husband, Liam Snr, now live in Donegal along with their 13-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome, and a son who is nine.

    “Kill is such a horrible word, it’s such a nasty word, but how else do I describe taking a life before its natural end, that someone could choose to end another person’s life that is a human, maybe a small human but still nonetheless a human?,” says Anne.

    “We know there are very painful issues for some people around pregnancy, but once you recognise the life, the fact of life not the belief of life, it becomes a different discussion,” says Liam snr, adding that he reluctantly decided to canvass for a No vote during the referendum campaign.

    “I hated it. My feeling is that I have to be able to stand up in front of my son and say I did my best; that children like our daughter would be protected. That’s the only thing that’s taking me out.”

  • 09:39

    No posters outside polling station in Sligo taken down

    “No” posters which were erected early this morning close to one Co Sligo polling station have been removed by staff following a complaint by a member of the public, writes Marese McDonagh.

    Two No posters were erected close to Strandhill primary school where three polling booths are located.

    A young man who arrived to vote sometime Around 8am, alerted the presiding officer who removed the posters. Staff said they had not been there when they arrived this morning.

  • 09:41
  • 09:51

    Why are there bibles in polling stations?

    Voters have contacted us this morning asking why they saw a bible in their polling station. The bible is sent to all stations so that if necessary, a voter can swear an oath to affirm their identity (if they’re not in a position to prove it). All returning officers receive a bible as part of their pack for elections and referendums.

    Speaking in 2015 at the time of the same-sex marriage referendum, a spokesman from the Department of the Environment said there was no obligation on anyone to swear an oath on the bible and that its presence in polling stations was not intended to cause offence.

    People are expected to affirm their identity through their ID (passport, driving licence, public services card, student ID, work ID).

  • 09:53
    I feel we all need a 'grúvaíáilte' meme right now...
  • 10:01
    Many Irish artists and architects will travel to Italy this month for the 2018 Venice architecture biennale which is curated by Irish women Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell from Grafton Architects. We received this photo overnight from some Irish visitors who took time off from the artistic celebrations to call for a Yes vote from the iconic Rialto Bridge.
    Many Irish artists and architects will travel to Italy this month for the 2018 Venice architecture biennale which is curated by Irish women Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell from Grafton Architects. We received this photo overnight from some Irish visitors who took time off from the artistic celebrations to call for a Yes vote from the iconic Rialto Bridge.
  • 10:06

    A number of people contacted me overnight with their personal stories of how they are planning to vote today. Niall Cowley’s message about his mother’s determination to vote was quite touching. He wrote to me:

    “After I vote in Dublin I’m driving up to the Lourdes hospital in Drogheda where my 79-year-old mum, and mother of nine children, has been admitted earlier this week. She received a pretty serious diagnosis last week and then this week she has been admitted to hospital again.

    "For the last few days she has been wearing her Yes badge in the ward and canvassing nurses to go back home and vote. And indeed she’s insisting that the doctors let her out this morning for 40 mins so she can come with me to vote before I have to drop her back to the hospital. Despite her difficult personal circumstance she is determined to participate in this once in a generation moment. What selfless dedication.”

  • 10:13

    No leafleting at polling stations


    We've had a few reports of people leafleting outside polling stations. Once again, it is illegal to campaign or canvass within 50m of the polling station and this includes posters or literature.

  • 10:14
  • 10:15
  • 10:25
  • 10:28

    Looks like you're all eager to get out there early. Still another 11.5 hours left to vote.  

     

  • 10:39

    Personal Stories

    Earlier this year I interviewed Sheila and Paddy Donohoe who voted in favour of the Eighth Amendment of the constitution in 1982. The couple were strict Catholics and active members of the Legion of Mary. They had grown up in a conservative country which taught them abortion was a sin in all circumstances.

    In 2011 the couple’s daughter Siobhan, who is a GP, became pregnant with her third child. Siobhán’s 20-week scan revealed the foetus had anencephaly (was developing without a brain). Siobhán travelled to Liverpool for a termination where her parents say she received the care “that she was denied here”. The couple will be voting Yes in today’s referendum.

    “You don’t know anything until it touches you,” says Sheila. “We have to stop thinking that all our old solutions are the right ones because really, they only were for the most part, theoretical.”

    She says those who are unsure how to vote should forget about other people’s opinions and trust their gut feeling. “It doesn’t matter what your neighbours think of you because really it has no influence on how you behave and if it does, you’re a fool.

    “You have to give people dignity. . . as they say, trust women. Young people really do think they know everything. But as you get older you realise you know so little. You’ve got to open your mind to these things. It may never affect you but you don’t know the dreadful effect it’s having on somebody else.”

  • 10:49

    Today’s vote so far...

    • More than 3.2 million people are eligible to vote in today’s referendum with polling stations remaining open until 10pm.
    • The counting of votes is scheduled to start at 9am on Saturday and the final result is expected later that afternoon.
    • Voters in 12 offshore communities cast their ballots on Thursday.
    • Opinion polls suggest a Yes vote is likely but with turnout unpredictable, those campaigning to repeal the amendment have asked their supporters to avoid any complacency as to the outcome.
    • A Yes vote will pave the way for laws legalising abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, and in more limited circumstances thereafter.
    • The Government has pledged to pass legislation by the end of the year if the proposal is carried and to accept there can be no change in the law in the event of a No vote.
    • No campaigners say a late turnaround is still on the cards if their supporters come out in strength.
    • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there will not be a second chance to vote on the issue of abortion for a “long time”. He says a No vote will send out the wrong message not just to women, but about Irish society.
    • The No campaign has called the proposed legislation “the most far-reaching abortion laws any Irish government has ever proposed in the history of the State”.
    • Campaigning is not allowed outside stations. It is illegal to campaign or canvass within 50m of the polling station and this includes posters or literature.
    • Voters are advised not to wear Yes/No jumpers/t-shirts/badges while casting their ballot. While wearing badges and t-shirts with a Yes/No on them is not strictly prohibited, it’s up to each individual returning officer to decide what is allowed and what is prohibited. Therefore it’s probably best to leave the merch at home.


    Once more, if you're still undecided and want to know the facts, click here to read Sarah Bardon's fact checks from the past few weeks.  

  • 10:55
    SERIOUSLY impressed by this woman. She's mid-way through labour but has decided her vote needs to happen.
  • 10:58
  • 11:11

    Turnout so far, higher than normal  

    • Our first report is from Co Tipperary where Conor Kane is reporting steady, if not busier than normal, turnout at the polling stations.
    • In Cashel turnout was anything between 2.7% and 8.4% depending on the booth at 10am.
    • In Roscrea it was 7% which is consistent with previous polls; Nenagh 7.6% which officers say is higher than normal for a referendum.
    • Turnout was 8.5% in Clonmel for the Sisters of Charity school which was also higher than the norm for the time of day, with a lot of young people voting, 9.1 % in St Peter and Paul's school and 9% in the St Mary's school polling station.
    • The figure was about 3.3 % in Cahir, polling reported to be busy enough early on and then quiet before picking up after the school run. It was low at 0.1% in parts of Carrick-on-Suir but expected to pick up during the day; and 8% in Thurles which is quite busy for 10am.
  • 11:12

    In Kilkenny around 12% of the electorate had cast their vote at the polling station at the CBS Primary School on Stephen Street by 9.30am. Indications are that this is a very high early turnout from voters.

  • 11:13
  • 11:14
  • 11:27

    Kildare turnout so far...

    • The highest turnout reported so far is at Patrician Primary School, Newbridge, where 14% of voters have cast their ballot.
    • 12% of voters have done so at Scoil na Mainistreach, Celbridge, 10.5% at Scoil Bhríde Kilcullen, and 9.3% at St. Corban's NS, Naas
    • These figures, when averaged across Kildare, indicate that in the region of 16,600 people in the county may already have voted.
    • There are 130 polling stations across Kildare, all of which will be open until 10pm tonight.
  • 11:28
  • 11:34
  • 11:39
    • In Wexford voter turnout is still quite low. By 10am only 3% of Enniscorthy electorate had voted.  
    • In Galway, voter turnout on the island was only 50%, Galway Bay FM has reported. 50% of voters cast their ballot on Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr but just 45% went to the polls on Inis Mór.
    • In Waterford, voters are reminded that there are a number of changes to today's polling stations.

    The station previously located at St. John’s College Hall, John’s Hill, is now at John’s College Conference Centre, The Folly. Voters are requested to use the Respond entrance at the Folly.

    The station previously at Tramore GAA Hall, Riverstown, Tramore is now at the Gaelscoil Philib Barun, Crobally Upper in Tramore.

    The station that was at Kilmeaden Village Centre is now re-located to Ballyduff National School, Booth number three.

    Polling information cards issued to voters are valid at the new locations.



  • 11:50

    Voter turnout in Dublin so far

    • Turnout in Clonsilla at Mountview primary school in Dublin 15 has been high all morning with queues reportedly forming outside the entrance at 7am.  
    • There were queues at Beechwood Community Centre in Ranealgh, Dublin 6 from early morning with 40 people ready to vote at 7am and 6% turnout by 8am.  
    • In Haddington Road, Dublin 4 turnout was 15% by 10am with about 30% of the supplementary register having voted.
    • In Ringsend, also Dublin 4, turnout was 17% by 11am with 20% of supplementary registers having voted.  
  • 12:05

    There have been reports this morning of groups leafleting and hanging posters outside polling stations. We’ve also had reports of individuals being stopped on their way into polling stations with attempts to try and change their minds. People, it is ILLEGAL to campaign or canvass within 50m of the polling station and this includes posters or literature. Don’t try and sway people, whichever way they’re voting. We live in a democracy and people have the right to vote whichever way they see fit.

  • 12:20
    I highly recommend watching my colleague Kathleen Harris' short 12 min doc on the story of the Eighth Amendment and how we've reached this point. From the debate's origins in the McGee contraception case through to the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012, it offers a clear understanding of why we are voting on this issue.  
  • 12:34

     Latest updates on polling

    • In Kerry early morning voter turnout was stronger than expected with polling booths in Killarney and other towns across the county  reporting up to 6% by 9 am. The early figures, seeing between 5 and 6%,  were collated by county registrar Padraig Burke from 212 polling booths and   are up on the turnout in   marriage referendum. Women in particular seemed to be turning out in numbers early in Killarney.
    • Over 111,000 people are eligible to vote in Kerry, with over 2,200 registering to vote since February.     Just 85,681 people were eligible to vote in Kerry in 1983 when the county overwhelmingly backed the insertion of the 8th amendment.
    • In Waterford turnout is steadily increasing across the 170 polling stations in the city and county.  In Waterford City East electoral area, Farronshoneen Youth and Community Centre reported a 16% turnout as of 11am. This is marginally higher than the percentage that turned out by the same time for the Marriage Equality Referendum in 2015.
    • In Waterford City South electoral area, St Saviours has reported a busy day so far with a turnout earlier this morning of 10%. They said a strong number of young people have come out to cast their vote. A steady flow of voters have also been reported in other polling stations. Just over 83,000 people are eligible to vote in Waterford.
    • In Roscommon/East Galway many polling stations had reported a 10% turnout by 10.30am. In Knockcroghery, over 10% had voted as early as 10.30 am while The Quad Centre in Roscommon town had a turnout of over 8%.
    • In Cavan town turnout had reached 10% at St Clare’s National School by 11am.
    • In Laois, the turnout figures by midday were Abbeyleix 16.2%, Portlaoise Rural 10.9%, Portlaoise Urban 17.6%, Rosenallis 14.9% Stradbally 14.6% and Vicarstown at 11.2%.  
    • In Kilkenny city, more than 25% of the electorate had voted by noon, making it the highest turnout in the country so far.
    • In Cork turnout by 12pm was: Cork East 17%, Cork North West 16% and Cork South West 16%
  • 12:37
  • 13:08

    Referendum results “still all to play for”

    The referendum result is “still all to play for” and every effort is still being made to get yes voters to the polls, Minister for Health Simon Harris said at midday on Friday.



    Speaking as he voted in Delgany Co Wicklow Mr Harris said he had visited the Dublin offices of the Together for Yes campaign earlier in the morning and there was “a real energy in there. They are still working on social media about getting people out to vote”.

     

    Mr Harris said “today is the day really, it is up to people to come out and vote.” He said he was “encouraged by the turnout so far” but the yes side was going to “keep on campaigning right up until 10 o’clock tonight”.

    “It really is all to play for now we are in 24 hours where punditry becomes irrelevant because it is in the hands of the people. I hope the people will vote for a compassionate and caring Ireland” he said.


    - Tim O'Brien reporting from Wicklow

  • 13:15

    'Quietly optimistic'

    A County Wicklow based GP, who used her own experience of travelling to Liverpool for a termination to campaign for a yes vote, said she was “quietly optimistic” about the vote.

     

    Dr Siobhan Donohue said neighbours and friends had contacted her before her vote in Bray to express support for her decision to publically tell the story of what happened to her.

     

    Dr Donohue was told at 20-weeks into her pregnancy that her baby had anencephaly - the top of the baby's head had never formed,  that there was nothing above his eyes, no scalp, no brain, no skull and that he would not survive .

     

    Dr Donohue said she had told her story for “all the women who could not tell theirs”. She said the experience of voting was “surreal” as was her trip to Liverpool where she had been induced in 2011. She said personal stories were very important as they put  “a human face” on the facts and figures surrounding the numbers of people who travel to the UK for terminations.

     

    She said women should not have to go through the experience of taking a flight and leaving behind their medical team and the care and support of their families, to receive care from medical teams in another country.

     

    “I am cautiously optimistic it feels like there has been a slow build on the yes side” she said.  “I think there is a lot of people out there who have had experience of this back through the years. This has changed our lives enormously, it is an emotional day” she said.

     

    She said passing the amendment would be “a first step. There will still be battles to take place but at least those battles will be able to take place. We can reassure people that they have an option”.

     

     

  • 13:19
  • 13:35

    Time to recap, where are we at with the voting so far?

    • Early reports indicate a strong turnout rate during the first hours of voting.
    • 3.3 million citizens are registered to vote in this referendum.
    • Initial figures from a number of polling stations show a stronger turnout than at the same time of day during the marriage equality referendum.
    • A Yes vote would pave the way for laws legalising abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, and in more limited circumstances thereafter.
    • The Government has pledged to pass legislation by the end of the year if the proposal is carried.
    • There will be no change in the law in the event of a No vote.
    • Polling stations will remain open until 10pm.
    • The counting of votes is scheduled to start at 9am on Saturday.
    • In Dublin, higher turnout than usual had been reported by lunchtime today. In some parts of the city turnout was almost double what it was for the 2016 general election after five hours of voting.
    • In Dublin Bay South a queue was reported outside Lakelands school in Sandymount before polling started at 7am.
    • And a similar group of early morning voters waited outside St Andrew’s resource centre at Pearse St.
    • At Beggars Bush turnout is normally 15% at noon but hit 15% by 10 am. At Haddington Road voting reached was 15% at 10 am and almost 30% by noon.
    • In Castleknock, West Dublin turnout was described as steady with an estimated 25% at St Brigid’s national school by noon.
    • In Dublin Central some polling stations reported steady but not spectacular turnout with city centre stations showing 15% to 20% by noon.
    • In Sandymount Leahy Terrace station voting was at just under 30% by noon, and 33% of those on the supplementary register - those who registered to vote by the May 8th deadline - had cast their ballots, slightly higher than normal.
    • Dublin Bay North which always rates in the top three for voter turnout at general elections and referendums, was showing an overall turnout by12 noon estimated at just under 30%.
  • 13:40

     Recap on voter turnout continued...

    • In Tipperary turnout is steady. In Cashel, by 10am the turnout was between 2.7 and 8.4%. In Roscrea it was 7% and Neenagh was 7.6% which returning officers said is higher than usual for a referendum.
    • Turnout was 8.5% in Clonmel for the Sisters of Charity school which was also higher than the norm for the time of day, with a lot of young people voting, 9.1% in St Peter and Paul’s school and 9% in the St Mary’s school polling station.
    • In Kerry, turnout was 12% at the Presentation Convent in Tralee at 10am. This was up in comparison with the last referendum and higher than other polling stations around Tralee and Co Kerry where, at 10am turnout averaged 5 to 6%.
    • In Co Louth turnout at 10am was put at between 10 to 11% with highs of 16% and lows of 8%.
    • There were high turnouts in rural areas such as the Cooley Peninsula (15%), the village of Dromiskin (16%), in Drogheda there had been 15% turnout in Aston Village at 10am and 14% in Lourdes Centre.
    • In Carlow town voting average at 12% this morning with one polling station in the town reporting up to 20%.
    • Turnout on Galway’s islands only reached 50% on Inis Meáin and Inis Oír and 45% on Inis Mór.
  • 13:43
  • 13:48

    Labour's Rebecca Moynihan has called for Dublin Castle to be opened to the public tomorrow. In a letter to the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, Ms Moynihan wrote that "regardless of the result, people who have contributed so much to this referendum campaign, whether they are seasoned campaigners or new activists, should be allowed to come together at the official announcement as they did for marriage equality."

  • 13:54
    More voters en route...
  • 14:03
  • 14:04
  • 14:14

    What would replace the Eighth Amendment?


    Still confused about what exactly will happen if the Eighth Amendment is removed from the Irish constitution? Trinity College Law Professor David Kenny and Irish Times Political Editor Pat Leady talk us through the details HERE of the text, the law and the politics of what happens next if a Yes vote wins.

     

    If the proposals to change the constitution are approved the Government will put legislations before the Oireachtas that would legalise abortion in specific instances if passed. It has published draft heads of a Bill to show voters what would replace the current ban on abortion. Under the proposed Bill abortions would be available in four distinct cases. Click here to read in what circumstances terminations will be made available.

  • 14:29

    To mark referendum day Amnesty International has put together an explainer on the global facts about abortion. Here's some of the key points:

    • An estimated one in four pregnancies end in an abortion every year worldwide.
    • According to the Guttmacher Institute, a US-based reproductive health non-profit, the abortion rate is 37 per 1,000 in countries that prohibit abortion or allow it only in instances to save a woman’s life, and 34 per 1,000 people in countries that broadly allow for abortion.
    • Unsafe abortions are defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “a procedure for terminating an unintended pregnancy carried out either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not confirm to minimal medical standards, or both.” An estimated 22 million unsafe abortions take place every year, the vast majority in developing countries.
    • In contrast to a legal abortion that is carried out by a trained medical provider, unsafe abortions can have fatal consequences. Unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide and lead to an additional five million largely preventable disabilities, according to the WHO.
    • The WHO says one of the first steps toward avoiding maternal deaths and injuries is for states to ensure that people have access to sex education, are able to use effective contraception, have safe and legal abortion, and are given timely care for complications.
    • Over the past 60 years more than 30 countries have changed their laws to allow for greater access to abortion.
    • In Nicaragua and El Salvador abortion is banned in virtually all circumstances.
  • 14:31
  • 14:58

    International coverage

    The eyes of the world are on our small island today with reporters from dozens of international media organisations descending on the country in recent days. Niall Donoghue has taken a look at how the global media is reporting on today’s referendum on the eighth amendment.

    • Reuters today described the abortion referendum as a potential “landmark of change in a country that, only two decades ago, was one of Europe’s most socially conservative”. The “once mighty church” took a back seat in debates which was “defined by women on both sides publicly describing their personal experiences of terminations”, according to the report.
    • The “landmark” referendum is asking citizens of a “traditionally Catholic country” if they should “liberalise some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe”, news agency Agence France Presse reported today. The liberalisation of same-sex marriage laws in 2015 was a “seismic change” for Ireland and followed on from the waning influence of the Catholic Church in what was traditionally “one of the most religious countries in Europe”, according to the report.
    • Newstalk reporter Paul Quinn discussed the abortion referendum on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s NewsRadio show this morning. He said the Eighth Amendment had “always been there at the surface and it’s really in the last couple of years that it’s come to the fore” since it was introduced into the constitution in 1983. “Both sides are so passionate and they’re so determined to get their own points across and because in this campaign in particular, there’s been an awful lot of misinformation, and it’s been very hard to try and get the facts.” Although Ireland has moved away from being a predominantly Catholic country in recent years, the abortion referendum is “a different type of vote, and you can’t say ‘because somebody voted for marriage equality that they’re going to vote for abortion’”, he said.
    • The Guardian expressed support for the Yes vote in an editorial published on Wednesday 23rd: “The eighth amendment merely creates unnecessary trauma for women and denies abortion to a small number who are in the most difficult circumstances – unable to travel due to their immigration status, poverty, a controlling partner, or their medical condition”.

     

     

  • 15:02

    Update from Sligo

    Presiding officers in Sligo are reporting a higher turnout for this time of day than for the last general election. This trend is evident in both rural and urban areas.

    In Cranmore in Sligo town there had been a 24per cent turnout by noon.

    Meanwhile in rural areas like   Keash the turnout was 22pc at lunchtime while in the seaside village of Standhill there was a 25 pc turnout at one polling booth before one o’clock. Staff there reported a high number of young voters.

    At the polling station on the Mail Coach Road in Sligo town where   a half dozen voters were waiting for staff to open up at 7am, turnout   was 17 pc by lunchtime.

    At the Mercy school in Sligo town, 23 per cent have voted so far which again is higher than usual for this time of day. Staff said voters included a good mix of old and young.

    Presiding officers are saying that if the trend continues turnout by the end of the day will be higher than for the same sex marriage referendum.

  • 15:03
  • 15:20
    That's all from me for today. I'm passing you over to my colleague Colin Gleeson who will keep you updated on turnout figures and news bulletins in the coming hours. I'm off to vote!
  • 15:29

    Good afternoon everyone and thanks for joining us on our live blog of polling day for the referendum on the eighth amendment.


    My name is Colin Gleeson and I’ll be with you until after the polls close later tonight.


    If you’d like to share pictures or comments, you can tweet me @ColinGleesonIT and I’ll publish what I can.

  • 15:44

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is quietly confident that a strong early turnout in the abortion referendum would favour those seeking repeal, and so far turnout is ‘brisk’, to use that word that is only ever rolled out when talking about turnout or walks.

    There’s talk turnout could top the 61 per cent who backed gay marriage by a landslide in a 2015 if trends continue.

  • 15:50
    Polling stations are open until 10pm, with the counting of votes scheduled to start at 9am on Saturday, so there is still plenty of time to cast your vote before getting out to enjoy the sunshine.
  • 15:54
    It's a draw.
  • 16:01
    At 2.30pm there was a 34% turnout reported in the polling station at Stephen Street in Kilkenny City.
  • 16:02
  • 16:08

    Our most read story at the moment is basically a round-up of turn-out from around the State.

    Early reports indicate a strong turnout rate as voting continues in the abortion referendum in which 3.3 million citizens are registered to vote.

    Initial figures from a number of polling stations show a stronger turnout than at the same time of day during the marriage equality referendum.

    In Sandymount’s Leahy’s Terrace station, voting was at just under 30 per cent by noon.

    At Beggars Bush, turnout is normally 15 per cent by noon, but hit that figure by 10am.

    At Haddington Road, voting reached 15 per cent by 10am and almost 30 per cent by noon.

    In Castleknock, turnout was described as steady, and was estimated at 25 per cent at St Brigid’s National School by noon.

    Of course there is likely to a surge in turnout from about 5.30pm onwards and people to file out of work.

  • 16:15

    Here are some numbers from the Department of Housing of people on the supplementary register broken down by local authority.

    The total number is 118, 389, which compares with a figure of about 65,000 people for the 2015 marriage referendum.

    Carlow 1,456

    Cavan 1,182

    Clare 3,043

    Cork 9,049

    Donegal 2,885

    Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown 9,729

    Fingal 6,908

    Galway 3,364

    Kerry 2,229

    Kildare 7,413

    Kilkenny 2,817

    Laois 2,010

    Leitrim 670

    Longford 841

    Louth 1,894

    Mayo 3,197

    Meath 4,957

    Monaghan 907

    Offaly 1,704

    Roscommon 708

    Sligo 1,463

    South Dublin 5,473

    Tipperary 3,423

    Westmeath 2,276

    Wexford 2,497

    Wicklow 3,149

  • 16:17

    In terms of city and county councils:

    Limerick City & County Council 3,502

    Waterford City & County Council 3,743

    And City Councils:

    Cork 3,480

    Dublin 19,805

    Galway 2,615

  • 16:23
    There you are now...
  • 16:24

    The early turnout trend in Roscommon/East Galway has continued this afternoon with Glanduff NS reaching 20% by 11.30 am and other polling stations following suit.

    The Roscommon electoral area reached 23% turnout by lunchtime while voting rates have been slightly lower in Castlerea, at 16.7%, and Ballinasloe at 16.5%.

  • 16:30
    Former Irish international Andy Reid isn't happy...
  • 16:35

    Anne Lucey reports that turnout in Kerry continues to be high with 33 per cent having voted.

    Padraig Burke, county registrar, said some booths had noticed a surge of women and younger men. However, older voters were not out in the same numbers.

  • 16:37

    Conor Kane tells me that by 4.15pm turnout was hovering around 30-33pc across much of Co Tipperary, with the highest turnout appearing to be in the largest town, Clonmel, at this stage of the day.

    The turnout at the polling station in St Mary’s National School in Clonmel at 4.15pm varied between 31 and 41 per cent, depending on the booth, while it stood at 33 per cent in both the Sisters of Charity National School and St Peter and Paul’s National School. It’s at 29 per cent in St Oliver’s.

    In Carrick-on-Suir at 4pm the turnout was reported to be 32 per cent and in Thurles it was 31 per cent.

    Roscrea’s youth centre reported a 30 per cent turnout, with the figure at 28 per cent in Nenagh and 27 per cent in Cahir. St Michael’s Girls’ National School in Tipperary town had a 29.3 per cent turnout by 4.15pm.

    In Cashel, the turnout ranged between 20.3 per cent to 29.8 per cent.

  • 16:41
    The turnout in parts of Dublin was at as high as 40 per cent at 4.30pm, including in the Laurel Lodge area in Castleknock where the Taoiseach voted, according to Dublin county returning officer Fergus Gallagher.
  • 16:43
  • 16:48
    Labour party leader Brendan Howlin has voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
  • 16:53

    Apparently the good weather is contributing to a high turnout in Roscommon/East Galway.

    By mid-afternoon, Athlone had reached 37%; the Roscommon Electoral Area was at 33%; Castlerea at 28.6%; Boyle 32%; and Ballinasloe 27.3%.

  • 16:54
  • 16:57

    Returning officers around the State are currently holding tightly on to their hats as 5pm approaches.

    Traditionally, it’s a busy time for voting as people make their way home from work, or indeed out into the sunshine.

  • 16:59

    Remember you can tweet me @ColinGleesonIT if you have any nice photos (related to the referendum) or would like to get involved.

    We want to hear from people on both sides of the debate.

  • 17:03

    For anyone who is planning on voting shortly, here is Sarah Bardon’s “dos and don’ts” guide to having your say.

    She cautions that it would probably be wise to leave any referendum-related clothing or merchandise like badges at home, as some returning officers may take a dim view of it.

  • 17:08
  • 17:14

    Claire Quinn reports from Waterford that men and women continue to turn out in their droves in to cast their votes.

    With less than five hours to go, the city has reported figures just short of 50% in places, including St John of Gods, which had a high of 47% shortly before 4pm.

    The county reported a lower percentage with 20% in Lismore and 30% in Lismore earlier this afternoon. However, staff said that it was a high percentage in Lismore and Cappoquin for the time of day for a referendum vote.

  • 17:17

    Some breaking news for you now.

    The Irish Times will publish a referendum exit poll later this evening which will give the projected results of the vote.

    The count begins on Saturday morning as turnout looks set to surpass previous referendums.

    The exit poll is being conducted by Ipsos/MRBI among 4,000 respondents at 160 polling stations in every constituency.

    Interviewing began at 7am on Friday as the first voters went to the polls, and continued throughout the day. Interviewing will also continue throughout the evening as voters cast their ballots.

    Exit polls have demonstrated a high degree of accuracy in the past. Today’s poll is estimated to have a margin of error of +/- 1.5 per cent.

  • 17:17
  • 17:21

    Stan Henderson reports that the latest available figures from presiding officers in Co Laois are as follows:

    Abbeyleix, with two ballot boxes, one at 33% and another at 37.6%

    Rosenallis 31.4%

    Vicarstown 23.8%

    Stradbally 25.6%

    Portlaoise urban 36.7%

    Portlaoise rural 29%

  • 17:23
  • 17:30
  • 17:36

    Turnout levels in some parts of Co Longford are nearing the 40 per cent mark ahead of what is expected to be a busy last few hours at polling stations across the county, reports Liam Cosgrove.

    Presiding officers have reported a gradual increase in activity over the past couple of hours as people return home from work in order to cast their vote on whether or not to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

    In Longford town, levels stood at almost 38 per cent at 5.30pm with Granard reporting a slightly lower turnout of 36 per cent.

    In more rural pockets of the county, turnout percentages have been decidedly more modest with a polling station in Killoe recording a figure of 29 per cent.

    Meanwhile, Longford Gardaí have confirmed the implementation of a dedicated policing plan in place to deal with any issues that may arise at voting stations ahead of the close of polls at 10pm.

    It comes amid claims that some referendum posters had breached the permitted 50 metre limit from certain stations and were subsequently taken down.

  • 17:39
  • 17:47

    Thomas Lyons reports from Aughadreena NS outside Cavan Town.

    “There has been a good turnout so far,” the woman sitting behind the teaches desk tells him as she hands out voting cards to a young couple who have walked in.

    “It is up on any referendum I have ever worked before. It's exceeding the marriage equality referendum. It's great to see people come out to vote.

    “A lot of people came in at 7am this morning on their way to work in Dublin. The good weather is also bringing people out.”

    The pattern of voters is the same in most of the polling stations. Voters have made their decisions and are in and out. As the polling clerks outline the trends a steady stream of voters come in, vote, and leave.

    The 30% turnout in Aughadreena is reflected in East Cavan and the main polling station in Cavan town. With four and half hours to vote it looks like this could be the highest referendum turnout in recent history.

  • 17:51
  • 17:55

    Turnout across Dublin city slumped somewhat in mid-afternoon, according to our reporter Marie O’Halloran.

    Political parties said the good weather and high traffic levels may have contributed to a slowdown in voting.

    In St Andrew’s Resource Centre on Pearse Street in Dublin Bay South, turnout had reached 31 per cent by 2pm but very few voters turned out in the afternoon.

    In most local areas numbers on the supplementary register averaged about 300 per polling station and in Ringsend 50 per cent of those on the supplementary or late registered list had cast their ballot by lunchtime.

    By late this afternoon an estimated 50 per cent to 63 per cent of those on the supplementary resgister had voted in the Dublin city area.

    A surge in voting is expected again between 6pm and 8.30pm.

  • 18:05
  • 18:07

    Voters continue to turn out in large numbers in Sligo, reports Marese McDonagh.

    By 5.30pm, turnout had exceeded 40% in a number of areas in Sligo town such as Cranmore and the Strandhill road.

    In Tubbercurry, the talking point was the huge turnout of elderly voters with many arriving on walking aids and walking canes and with several linked in by relatives.

    In other parts of Sligo however, staff commented on the large numbers of first time voters.

    In Strandhill, where the busiest polling booth was reporting a 40% turnout, staff noted that voters were arriving in school uniforms, having recently turned 18.

  • 18:25

    Our political correspondent Michael O’Regan reports that mid-morning tallies on Saturday will give voters an indication of the result of the abortion referendum.

    All constituencies will have a tally count, some more detailed than others.

    “The so-called tallyman, a term used in a less politically correct era, was always invaluable at an election or referendum count,” he writes.

    “He or she closely monitored the counting of the votes and took careful notes of figures and trends, with the more professional operators capable of predicting the outcome in advance of the returning officer.

    “While those practised operators of the skill have diminished in number, the current army of tally people remain an important part of the count process.

    “Saturday’s tally will be easily done, given that it is simply a matter of Yes or No on the ballot paper, and there are no candidates, counts and transfers, as in the case of an election.”

  • 18:27
  • 18:43
    My colleague Sorcha Pollak, who you may remember from earlier on, says she has just voted in Kildare Place school in Rathmines, Dublin, and the returning officer said today’s been the busiest he’s ever seen it for any referendum.
  • 18:48
  • 18:56

    In case anyone needed reminding, a Yes vote would pave the way for laws legalising abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, and in more limited circumstances thereafter.

    The Government has pledged to pass such legislation by the end of the year if the proposal is carried.

  • 18:56
    Just over three hours to go now until the close of polls across the State.
  • 19:02

    The turnout at the polling station at Stephen Street in Kilkenny City was 50% at 7pm.

    In other areas of the city polling stations reported turnouts of close to 40% at 4.30pm.

  • 19:17

    Maria Pepper reports that voting has been brisk (there’s that word again) at many of the 191 polling stations in Co Wexford.

    She says there are early indications in some areas of a higher turn-out than that for the 8th Amendment referendum of 1983 when 59% of the local electorate cast their votes.

    By 5.30pm, the turn-out in Wexford town was 35% at the CBS school polling booth; 44% in Kennedy Park school; 46% in Scoil Mhuire and 44% in John's Road school. It was predicted that some parts of the town could hit up to 68% by 10pm.

    A total of 110,494 people are entitled to vote in Co Wexford in this referendum including 2,288 new voters who registered recently to have their names placed on a supplementary register.

    In 1983, 72.8% of Co Wexford people voted in favour of the Eight Amendment to the constitution with 27.2% of voters against, compared to a 66.9% to 33.1% majority vote in favour nationally.

  • 19:18
  • 19:41

    Turnout in Cork appears to be up on both the marriage equality referendum and the last general election with some presiding officers attributing the high turn out earlier in the day to the fine weather, according to our southern correspondent Barry Roche.

    In Blackpool in Cork North Central, polling was close to 50% at 7pm, which is approximately 10 points higher than the vote in the marriage equality referendum at the same time and also higher than voting in the general election.

    “A long established working class community, Blackpool saw a lot of older voters early in the day with the fine weather ensuring an early increase in voting which began to ease as the day progressed but a late surge is still expected before 10pm,” he says.

    In nearby Mayfield, polling was running at around 51% which again was higher than the equivalent vote during the marriage equality referendum but only marginally higher than in the last general election and experts were predicting the poll would easily surpass the 60% mark.

    In Carrigaline, home to Yes campaigner and Tanaiste Simon Coveney as well as No advocate Michael McGrath of Fianna Fail, polling was running at 50% at 7pm which was slightly more than in the marriage equality referendum and also up slightly on the last general election.

    Meanwhile across the county, the three rural Cork constituencies of Cork East, Cork North West and Cork South West were reporting returns averaging 33% at 5pm which is up on the marriage equality referendum but the figure is expected to rise significantly later this evening.

    “The 5pm figures appeared relatively consistent across all three constituencies with Cork East and Cork North West, with both reporting a 34% turnout while Cork South West was just 1% behind at 33%,” he says.

  • 19:46
  • 19:59
  • 20:00
    Just two hours until the close of polls.
  • 20:10


    A number of voters have protested about the presence of religious symbols at polling stations, but no formal complaints are understood to have been made to authorities.

    A Department of Local Government spokesman has said the removal of religious symbols or covering them up is a matter for local returning officers, who procure the venues for voting.

    The main issue is the presence of bibles, which are sent to all stations so that, if necessary, a voter can swear an oath to affirm their identity (if they’re not in a position to prove it).

    All returning officers receive a bible as part of their pack for elections and referendums.

    Can you be done for perjury if you’re fibbing I wonder? Seems a mad system either way.

  • 20:11
  • 20:14

    Turnout has now risen to 50 per cent in some areas.

    Polling stations will remain open until 10pm. The counting of votes is scheduled to start at 9am on Saturday.

    Voters in 12 offshore communities cast their ballots on Thursday. Voter turnout on Galway’s islands only reached 50 per cent on Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr and just 45 per cent on Inis Mór. However, Inishbofin, with a population of just under 200, reported a 72 per cent turnout.

  • 20:16
  • 20:23

    Polling in Longford Town, Killoe, and Mullinalaghta is around 50 per cent as of 8.10pm.

    Granard town is averaging a few percentage points further back at 43 per cent.

  • 20:39
  • 20:41

    The most up to date percentages in Laois are:

    Rosenallis 51.2%

    Abbeyleix are reporting just over 50% on each of its three ballot boxes

    Portlaoise Urban presiding officer is reporting on three boxes with one being 49.6%, another 51.8% and the third 46.2%

  • 20:42

    Dan Dooner reports that the evening rush is well and truly on in Roscommon/East Galway with polling stations due to close in just over an hour.

    The highest turnout in the constituency is in Athlone, which is currently running at 60%.

    Roscommon is currently at 51% with dozens of voters still arriving at the Quad.

    Meanwhile, Castlerea is currently running at 46.34% and voters continue to arrive.

  • 20:42
    No late surge in Kerry however. At 8.35pm, around 50 per cent had turned out, with voting in Tralee and Killarney at between 45 and 50 per cent.  
  • 20:52

    Marese McDonagh reports that turnout had reached 60% in a number of Sligo polling stations before 8.30pm, although the expected “tea-time rush” failed to materialise in some areas.

    With Sligo Rovers playing Limerick FC in the Showgrounds, some presiding officers anticipated a late surge once the game ends.

    On the Strandhill road in Sligo, turnout had reached 60% by 8pm at one polling booth. Staff there said they had never seen such a high figure so early for any referendum or for a general or local election.

    At Cranmore in Sligo town by 8pm turnout was averaging 54% at two polling booths with staff there predicting at least 60% by close of polls.

    The pace of voting there did drop in the late afternoon after a very busy morning.

    In Tubberycurry where the elderly were out in force in the afternoon, staff saw a rush of young voters in the evening. “Things slowed down for a few hours before the after work crowd arrived,” said a staff member there.

    In Strandhill 63% had voted in one booth by 8pm. Staff there noticed a high proportion of young voters with a significant cohort having flown home to vote.

  • 20:55
  • 21:00
    Just an hour to go now before the polls close.
  • 21:11

    Claire Quinn reports that polling centres in Waterford city reported in excess of 50% turnout, while the percentage was similar in the county.

    Among the centres with the highest turnouts in the city was St John of God National School at 70%.

    Ballygunner National School polling station, on the outskirts of the city, reported a figure of 62%, while St John’s College Conference Centre, Waterford city had a turnout of 68% before 9pm. Dungarvan stood at 55% and Tramore at 54% at some centres.

  • 21:30
  • 21:31

    Just a half an hour left now until the polls close.

    Don’t forget that The Irish Times will be publishing an exit poll tonight.

    Exit polls have demonstrated a high degree of accuracy in the past. Today’s poll is estimated to have a margin of error of +/- 1.5 per cent.

  • 21:34
  • 21:52
    Just a few minutes left now before voting ends. Stay with us for the next part.
  • 22:00
    Polls have now closed in the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.
  • 22:02

    Ireland has voted by a landslide margin to change the constitution so that abortion can be legalised, according to an exit poll conducted for The Irish Times by Ipsos/MRBI.

    The poll suggests that the margin of victory for the Yes side in today’s referendum will be 68 to 32 – a stunning victory for the Yes side after a long and often divisive campaign.

    Four thousand voters were interviewed by Ipsos/MRBI as they left polling stations on Friday
    yesterday. Sampling began at 7am this morning and was conducted at 160 locations across every constituency throughout the day.

    The margin of error is estimated at +/- 1.5 per cent.

    Counting of votes begins on Saturday at 9am with an official result expected to be declared in the afternoon.

    However, the size of the victory predicted by the exit poll leaves little doubt that, whatever the final count figures, the constitutional ban on abortion, inserted in a referendum in 1983, is set to be repealed.

    Read more from Pat Leahy here.

  • 22:04
  • 22:16

    This might be a good time to revisit Sarah Bardon’s Q&A on the referendum.

    What is the Government proposing to do if the amendment is repealed?

    In the event of a Yes vote, article 40.3.3 would be removed and be replaced with an enabling provision stating: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.”

    The current law remains in place until any new legislation is passed by the Oireachtas. The Government is proposing it be replaced and has published the general scheme of a Bill.

  • 22:18

    In what circumstances would abortion be available under the proposed new legislation?

    Under the Government plans, terminations would be accessible within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. A woman would seek a termination from a medical practitioner, who would have a legal obligation to discuss the woman’s options with her.

    A three-day waiting period will then be enforced. After that, the woman can have abortion if she still intends to terminate the pregnancy.

    Will abortions be available after 12 weeks?

    In very specific circumstances, yes. If there is a risk to a woman’s life or of serious harm to her health, two medical practitioners will be asked to determine if an abortion should be permitted.

  • 22:19
  • 22:20

    More from Pat Leahy, who writes that few anticipated the great wave of support for repeal that has clearly swept the State.

    The highest Yes vote was in Dublin, where 77 per cent of voters backed the proposals, the poll predicts.

  • 22:21

    The expectation amongst No campaigners that rural Ireland would vote against changing the constitution was wide of the mark.

    While the majority in favour of repeal in rural Ireland at 60 per cent was smaller than in urban Ireland, it was still a thumping majority in favour of change.

  • 22:23
    If the margin of victory for the Yes side is reflected in the final results tomorrow, Minister for Health Simon Harris’ hand will be strengthened when he seeks to pass his proposed legislation in the Oireachtas.
  • 22:25
  • 22:29
  • 22:35

    The Social Democrats have welcomed the exit poll tonight showing a strong voter turnout in favour of repealing of the Eighth Amendment.

    The party’s co-leader Catherine Murphy said: “The exit poll results are strongly indicating that voters have taken on board the clear message that the Eighth Amendment harms women and must be removed from our Constitution.

    “While we await the counting of votes tomorrow, we are very encouraged by these early signals showing that Irish people have understood the need to vote Yes so that we can provide women with the healthcare they need in a compassionate, caring and medically safe system.

    “Social Democrats volunteers and activists who will be present in count centres around the country today are hopeful that these results signal that significant and positive change is within our grasp.”

  • 22:37
  • 22:40
  • 22:44

    Fiach Kelly has written an analysis on the exit poll, which you can read here.

    He writes that the findings of The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll, if borne out when the result of the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution is announced, “illustrate an overwhelming desire for change that nobody had foreseen”.

    “The victory for the Yes campaign looks set to be neither narrow nor based on a few segments of Irish society,” he continues. “Rather, it will be carried high on the shoulders of a majority across the entire country

    “Aside from the thumping majority in favour of repeal, the most striking aspect of the exit poll is the uniform strength of the Yes vote across all regions and ages, except voters aged above 65.”

  • 22:45
  • 23:07
  • 23:21
    The projection has been mirrored by an exit poll carried out by RTE, which showed 69.4 have voted for Yes, while 30.6 per cent have voted for No.
  • 23:26

    RTÉ’s sample size was 3,800 with a margin of error of +/- 1.6%.

    The exit poll was conducted by in conjunction with a number of Irish universities and was carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes.

    A breakdown of the poll projects that 65.9% of men voted Yes, with 72.1% women voting in favour of repeal.

    Among the 18-24 age group, the Yes vote is projected at 87.6%, while for 25-34 year-olds it is 84.6%.

  • 23:28
  • 23:36

    Well it’s been a hugely eventful day in the Republic, with much more to come over the weekend.

    We’re going to sign off the live blog for now, but we’ll be back early in the morning to bring you extensive live coverage of the count.

    For now, good night, and thanks for sticking with us.