Republic of Ireland news

Fast-track legislation could be used to implement abortion vote

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has welcomed the abortion referendum result

Dublin's health minister Simon Harris is expected to consult with officials today over how fast legislation can be published after the Republic voted to scrap the Eighth amendment.

While the legislation may be ready for publication before the summer it is more likely to be published during the Dáil recess in July or August.

Once published it is thought it will go before the Dáil and Seanad next September.

The landslide nature of the result took many observers by surprise.

Across the country more than 66 percent of the population voted ‘yes’ to support the liberalisation of Ireland’s abortions laws with just over 33 percent voting for things to remain the same.

The vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment - which prohibited abortion to very limited circumstances – was won by a majority of 706,349 votes.

Just one constituency, Donegal, rejected the proposal.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who supported repeal welcomed the ‘yes’ vote.

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"We voted for the 200,000 Irish women who have travelled to Britain since 1983 to end their pregnancies,” he said.

"For the couples who shared their heartbreaking stories of returning home from Liverpool and other English cities with tiny coffins.

"For the young and the not so young women, who spoke their truth and for those stories that have still not been heard.

"In recent days I said that this was a once-in-a-generation vote.

"But I believe we have voted today for the next generation.”

Health minister Simon Harris was delighted with the result.

"Under the Eighth Amendment we used to say to women in crisis: take the boat or take the plane,” he said.

"Today we say, take our hand."

The Together for Yes campaign group called on the government to start the process of legislating for abortion next week.

The group's co-director, Orla O’Connor, said TDs and senators should consider a special sitting over the summer to ensure the passage of legislation.

She said she would support the new legislation being called 'Savita's Law' – after Savita Halappanavar who died after being denied an abortion in 2012.

Prominent ‘No’ campaigner John McGuirk from the Save the Eighth campaign said those involved are “deeply broken-hearted".

"Shortly, legislation will be introduced that will allow babies to be killed in our country," he said.

However, he vowed that No campaigners would continue to protest, "if and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland".

"Every time an unborn child has his or her life ended in Ireland, we will oppose that, and make our voices known," he added.

Iona Institute director and ‘No’ campaigner David Quinn has said the pro-life movement will not fade away.

"The result today is basically a reversal of the 1983 result,” he said.

“On that occasion the defeated side did not simply slip away.”

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