Amendment passes but vote ends up one of the lowest turnouts on record


The children’s rights amendment to the Constitution has been passed with 57.4 per cent of people voting Yes and 42.6 per cent voting No.

In one of the lowest referendum turnouts on record just 33.49 per cent of the 3.1 million people eligible to vote cast their ballots.

Three constituencies – Donegal North East, Donegal South West and Dublin North West – voted No and the other 40 voted Yes.

The highest Yes vote was in Dublin South, where the referendum was carried by 73 per cent in favour.

There were Yes votes of almost 72 per cent in Dublin South East and Dún Laoghaire.

The Yes vote in Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s Mayo constituency was 53 per cent.

Last night Mr Kenny welcomed the national result and said it was a historic day for the children of Ireland, who would for the first time be recognised by the Constitution as citizens in their own right.

He said the Government would now move forward with the implementation of the decision of the people.

Some 615,731 people voted in favour of the amendment and 445,863 voted against.

The total number of invalid or spoiled votes came to 4,645.

From early morning it became clear as ballot boxes were opened that the referendum would be carried, with the final result announced at the Central Count Centre for the Thirty-first Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012 at Dublin Castle at about 2pm.

Turnout overall was low but Donegal South West, which voted No, had one of the lowest turnouts in the State at 23.8 per cent. The turnout in Donegal North East wasn’t much higher at 24.47 per cent.

Turnout was also under 30 per cent in five other constituencies including Cavan-Monaghan, Galway East, Galway West, Kerry South and Kerry North-West Limerick.

Highest turnout

The constituencies with the highest turnout included Dublin North Central, which saw 42 per cent of those eligible to vote casting their ballots, and Dún Laoghaire, where the turnout was 41.54 per cent.

In the Taoiseach’s Mayo constituency the turnout was 32.1 per cent.

Overall, there were indications of a higher No vote in disadvantaged areas.

Sinn Féin spokesman on children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the relatively high No vote in working-class areas was significant.

“I believe it reflects deep mistrust of government and the State as a result of the harsh and futile austerity regime of the Fine Gael-Labour Government that is hitting these communities worst,” he said.

In Meath, Fine Gael Minister of State for Agriculture Shane McEntee accused Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, who called for a Yes vote, of engaging in double-speak in the campaign.

“The pattern of the votes shows some parties like Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin had been talking out of the two sides of their mouths,” he said.

Mr Ó Caoláin rejected what he termed “the juvenile remarks” of Mr McEntee, saying his party had campaigned for years for constitutional change on the issue.

“I was proud to lead our campaign and we have worked with others across the political spectrum including deputy McEntee’s senior colleague, the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald,” he said. “I commend all who campaigned for a Yes vote and all who turned out to vote. It is time now to implement the people’s decision.”