Donegal result: No 51.87% and Yes 48.13%
The only constituency in the country to vote No was also one of the last to declare a result
A No vote at the count centre in Letterkenny, Co Donegal on Saturday. Photograph: Declan Doherty
Donegal has returned a No vote in the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
The county was one of the last to officially declare the result of its vote after some drama at the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny. There was anxiety particularly among the No campaigners about the delay in the result being announced with gardaí being forced to explain that Donegal had been told not to announce a result until the national one had been revealed at Dublin Castle.
When returning officer Geraldine O’Connor finally spoke at 6.20pm on Saturday, she revealed the total No vote in Donegal came in at 35,091 and the Yes vote numbered 32,559.
The total electorate was 118,901 making the turn-out 57.06 per cent with 189 invalid votes.
The No side had 2,532 more votes in the end than the Yes campaign.
But the number of votes between the sides in many towns and villages across the county often came down to just a few ballot papers.
Throughout the day the feeling was always that the no campaign would just shade it in Donegal.
Deputy Thomas Pringle insisted earlier the yes campaign had done enough to swing the vote and predicted a result of 52.5 per cent in favour of repeal. That prediction never transpired, however.
Senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn, a strong yes campaigner, said the closeness of the vote is a huge victory for those supporting the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
He said that going into the vote he would have been happy if the yes vote in Donegal had recorded a 40 per cent vote.
He referred to the 1983 vote to put the Eighth Amendment into the constitution. “Back then Donegal voted by almost 85 per cent to put the amendment into our constitution. That is a huge swing today.”
No campaign voter Tim Jackson described it as the darkest day in Irish history. Wearing a Donegal GAA jersey, the outspoken campaigner from Ballybofey said today’s vote would be felt for generations to come.
Mr Jackson famously heckled Health Minister Simon Harris during a live press conference in the lead-up to the vote.
He said “I am glad that the people of Donegal have seen sense today and voted against killing their own children.
“But for the rest of the country to vote en masse for killing human beings for generations to come long after they are gone to me makes this the darkest day in Irish history.”