Abortion referendum: Why did Donegal vote No?

A polling station on Gola Island, off the coast of Donegal, for the eighth amendment referendum
A polling station on Gola Island, off the coast of Donegal, for the eighth amendment referendum

WHILE the Yes campaign undoubtedly achieved a comprehensive victory on Saturday, voters in the Republic's most northern county denied it a clean sweep.

Donegal was the only one of the 40 constituencies to return a No vote in the referendum on repealing the constitution's eighth amendment.

The final result had 48 per cent voting Yes and 52 per cent No – compared to the overall result of 66.4 per cent in favour and 33.6 per cent against.

At 57 per cent, turnout in Donegal was lower than the overall average of 64.5 per cent.

Just over 2,500 votes separated the two sides, although the gap increased in rural areas and several polling stations in the Fanad and Inishowen peninsulas near the border were reported to have returned a decisive 70 per cent No vote.

In the 1983 referendum which introduced the eighth amendment, Donegal had among the highest votes in favour with Donegal North-East polling 83 per cent.

It has rejected eight out of the last 10 referenda, although it voted narrowly in support of same-sex marriage in 2015.

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Some other constituencies also delivered considerably tighter results on Saturday than the overall vote.

The border constituency of Cavan-Monaghan had the lowest Yes vote at 55.5 per cent, followed by Mayo at 57.1 per cent.

The highest Yes vote was in Dublin Bay South at 78.5 per cent, reflecting strong support across the city.

According to the 2016 Census, Donegal is among several counties with a higher average age profile.

Donegal also had one of the highest dependency ratios, with dependants aged 0-14 and 65-plus making up more than 60 per cent of the population.

And it was only one of two constituencies, the other being Mayo, to register a population decrease, falling by 1.1 per cent from 2011-16.

Exit polls may offer some insight into how these demographics could have influenced the referendum result.

Across the Republic, urban areas voted Yes by 72.3 per cent compared to 63.3 per cent in rural areas, according to an RTÉ's survey which interviewed more than 3,800 people at 175 polling stations.

More women voted Yes (72.1 per cent) compared to men (65.9 per cent).

The highest Yes decision was among voters aged 18-14 (87.6 per cent), while the only age category to vote No were those aged 65 and over (58.7 per cent).


Eighth amendment referendum: How each constituency voted:


YES: 63.5 per cent

NO: 36.5 per cent

Turnout: 62.0%


YES: 55.5 per cent

NO: 44.5 per cent

Turnout: 63.4 per cent


YES: 64.3 per cent

NO: 35.7 per cent

Turnout: 64.4 per cent

Cork East

YES: 64.1 per cent

NO: 35.9 per cent

Turnout: 63.8 per cent

Cork North-Central

YES: 64.0 per cent

NO: 36.0 per cent

Turnout: 62.4 per cent

Cork North-West

YES: 60.1 per cent

NO: 39.9 per cent

Turnout: 65.9 per cent

Cork South-Central

YES: 68.8 per cent

NO: 31.2 per cent

Turnout: 66.7 per cent

Cork South-West

YES: 64.5 per cent

NO: 35.5 per cent

Turnout: 67.3 per cent


YES: 48.1 per cent

NO: 51.9 per cent

Turnout: 57.1 per cent

Dublin Bay North

YES: 74.7 per cent

NO: 25.3 per cent

Turnout: 71.6 per cent

Dublin Bay South

YES: 78.5 per cent

NO: 21.5 per cent

Turnout: 54.9 per cent

Dublin Central

YES: 76.5 per cent

NO: 23.5 per cent

Turnout: 51.5 per cent

Dublin Fingal

YES: 77.0 per cent

NO: 23.0 per cent

Turnout: 70.4 per cent

Dublin Mid-West

YES: 73.3 per cent

NO: 26.7 per cent

Turnout: 67.3 per cent

Dublin North-West

YES: 73.1 per cent

NO: 26.9 per cent

Turnout: 62.8 per cent

Dublin Rathdown

YES: 76.1 per cent

NO: 23.9 per cent

Turnout: 70.1 per cent

Dublin South-Central

YES: 74.8 per cent

NO: 25.2 per cent

Turnout: 59.6 per cent

Dublin South-West

YES: 74.9 per cent

NO: 25.1 per cent

Turnout: 68.6 per cent

Dublin West

YES: 74.0 per cent

NO 26.0 per cent

Turnout: 67.8 per cent

Dún Laoghaire

YES: 77.1 per cent

NO: 22.9 per cent

Turnout: 68.5 per cent

Galway East

YES: 60.2 per cent

NO: 39.8 per cent

Turnout: 63.5 per cent

Galway West

YES: 65.9 per cent

NO: 34.1 per cent

Turnout: 59.9 per cent


YES: 58.3 per cent

NO: 41.7 per cent

Turnout: 62.4 per cent

Kildare North

YES: 73.6 per cent

NO: 26.4 per cent

Turnout: 63.8 per cent

Kildare South

YES: 70.7 per cent

NO: 29.3 per cent

Turnout: 61.3 per cent


YES: 61.4 per cent

NO: 38.6 per cent

Turnout: 62.0 per cent

Limerick City

YES: 66.9 per cent

NO 33.1 per cent

Turnout: 62.0 per cent

Limerick County

YES: 58.1 per cent

NO: 41.9 per cent

Turnout: 62.5 per cent


YES: 58.3 per cent

NO: 41.7 per cent

Turnout: 59.3 per cent


YES: 66.6 per cent

NO: 33.4 per cent

Turnout: 65.9 per cent


YES: 57.1 per cent

NO: 42.9 per cent

Turnout: 62.1 per cent

Meath East

YES: 69.2 per cent

NO: 30.8 per cent

Turnout: 65.6 per cent

Meath West

YES: 64.0 per cent

NO: 36.0 per cent

Turnout: 62.9 per cent


YES: 58.1 per cent

NO: 41.9 per cent

Turnout: 64.7 per cent


YES: 57.2 per cent

NO: 42.8 per cent

Turnout: 65.7 per cent


YES: 59.4 per cent

NO: 40.6 per cent

Turnout: 61.1 per cent


YES: 59.1 per cent

NO: 40.9 per cent

Turnout: 63.8 per cent


YES: 69.4 per cent

NO: 30.6 per cent

Turnout: 64.3 per cent


YES: 68.4 per cent

NO: 31.6 per cent

Turnout: 66.3 per cent


YES: 74.3 per cent

NO: 25.7 per cent

Turnout: 74.5 per cent