International media had descended on Roscommon Town in the past few weeks, with many expecting the constituency to deliver a No vote in the abortion referendum. In the end, Roscommon Galway voted 57.21 per cent to 42.79 per cent in favour of repeal amid jubilant scenes at the Hyde Park count centre.
Even though the margins were tighter in rural areas, the constituency voted 23,677 to 17,709 in favour of repeal. The overall turnout was 65.7 per cent from an electorate of 63,158. There were 111 invalid ballots.
Roscommon Together For Yes campaigner Julie O’Donoghue said confidence had grown as the campaign went on.
“We felt ourselves that there were a lot of silent Yes voters in Roscommon. The Yes voters were gaining more confidence as weeks went by and they were taking the badges and wearing them proudly, so we’ve been hopeful and we felt that the Yes vote here could have a higher turnout than people were anticipating.
“We were at the doors and on the streets and we knew that the response was positive and that people were receptive to voting Yes,” she said.
Sinn Féin general election candidate and Yes campaigner Claire Kerrane said she had expected a Yes vote, but was delighted nonetheless.
“I think women have been listened to and they’ve been heard. Personal stories have carried this across the line, I believe. People have come out, mothers have come out, parents have come out and told of their suffering. That’s not going to happen any more because we’re not going to stand for it,” she said.
Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden, a No voter who supported the 1983 referendum, which saw Roscommon voting to give equal right to life to the mother and the unborn by 83.8 per cent, complimented the Yes side.
“The Yes campaign was very effective,” he said, adding that he was not surprised by the Yes vote’s victory, and that things had changed since the 1983 referendum.
“The No campaign was not as emotive as it was in the past. The people who voted Yes were not voting for abortion, they were voting for a humane approach to people in difficulties, whether it was fatal foetal abnormalities or cases of rape or incest,” he said.
“They asked whether it was appropriate for those people to be sent to a foreign country to be dealt with medically.”
Fianna Fáil TD and No advocate, Eugene Murphy, said he stood over his own position but accepted the will of the people, despite the despondency of members of the No campaign.
“My issue was with the 12 weeks and I had a personal issue with that, I’m not going to go into it, but in terms of scans I see nine weeks. I am a pro-life person, but at the same time I have to recognise that the people who voted are saying ‘This is our will’ .”
It had been described as "a once in a generation referendum" and there were emotional scenes as mother and daughter Roscommon Together For Yes campaigners, Georgina and Natalie Barrow from Strokestown, embraced.
Georgina said it had been an emotional day.
“The very first meeting we went together, we canvassed together every evening and every weekend. It’s so emotional; I’ve cried so much today. It’s something you wouldn’t get to do very often; canvass with your family for something you strongly believe in.”
Natalie said she was proud to play her part in delivering a Yes vote in Co Roscommon, adding that the experience had brought her closer to her mother.
“Every time I saw a box coming in from a town I had canvassed personally in, it was emotional. Myself and mum were a team, we went together during the weeks. It was the two of us going door-to-door and ringing doorbells, and it brought us closer.”