Galway West result: 65.9% vote for repeal, including four islands
Galway Together for Yes spokeswoman says ‘prejudices about rural areas don’t stand up’
Presiding Officer Carmel McBride and Garda Alan Gallagher carry the polling box for the abortion referendum on Inishbofin. Photograph: Photograph: Reuters
The Galway West constituency including four offshore islands has recorded a 65.9 per cent vote in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment.
Supporters of the Together for Yes campaign filled the hall at Leisureland, Salthill with whoops, whistles and a rendition of Milck’s I Can’t Keep Quiet after the result was announced by returning officer Marian Chambers-Higgins.
“I can’t keep quiet, no,oh oh oh... a one woman riot, oh,oh,oh” the campaign supporters sang, swaying together under a campaign banner.
Turnout in Galway West was just under 60 per cent, and there were 201 spoiled votes in a total valid poll of 64,328.
Galway Together for Yes joint secretary Lorraine Grimes said the indications right across the Galway West constituency in favour of repeal showed that “the prejudices about rural areas don’t stand up”.
“I was surprised that all three Aran islands voted so clearly in favour; Inis Meáin had opposed the marriage equality referendum, but island women know more than anyone how difficult it is to make a journey in a crisis pregnancy,” she noted.
Ms Grimes paid tribute to the many people who had campaigned over the years to have the Eighth Amendment removed, noting it had been passed before she was born.
The Galway Together for Yes coalition involved 25 groups, including the Labour Party, Social Democrats, Green Party, Sinn Féin, People before Profit and Socialist Workers Movement, along with NGOS.
Independent Galway-West TD Catherine Connolly, who expressed delight at the outcome, paid tribute to the “many courageous women who had been forced to go to courts, both national and international” and “brave TDs” who had attempted to introduce legislation previously.
Ms Connolly said she believed the death of Savita Halappanavar in University Hospital, Galway in 2012 was one of many factors which would have influenced voters in her constituency.
“I think women have had enough, and the chain has been broken,” she said. “I hope people will harness this energy to tackle urgent equality issues such as housing and health,” she said.
Fianna Fáil TD and former minister Éamon Ó Cuív, who had opposed repeal, said he was not surprised by the result.
“I might not have predicted a margin of almost 70-30, “he said, and acknowledged that tallies had shown his home area of Cornamona had voted “yes”.
“I think people were influenced by hearing individual cases, “he said. However, Mr Ó Cuiv said he hoped both RTÉ and The Irish Times would publish full details of exit polls.
“This will allow us to reflect on the many factors influencing voters and understand the dynamic,” he said.
He pledged that there would be “no attempt to filibuster or delay” legislation, but hoped for a full debate on same.
Minister of State for the Department of Rural and Community Development Seán Kyne said he was surprised by the margin in favour of repeal overall, having anticipated there would be a Yes vote.
Mr Kyne who had recorded on Twitter on Friday night that he had voted Yes, said he was pleased by very clear margin.
“The last thing I would have wanted was a very tight result, as that would have made legislation very difficult to pass,” he said.
Senator Billy Lawless said he was delighted at the result, but believed that Irish in the US would be “extremely shocked” at the wide margin in favour of repeal.
Senator Lawless, a Taoiseach’s nominee who has lived in Chicago for the past two decades, said he was not surprised at the outcome, particularly given the numbers who travelled home to vote.
“It shows that the youth will come out to vote if there are issues out there,” Senator Lawless said.
“This is the new Ireland and it is great.”