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Friday 22 June 2018

'I always get a little bit of a buzz from voting' - Leo

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured at Scoil Thomais, Laurel Lodge, Castleknock. Photo: Colin Keegan
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured at Scoil Thomais, Laurel Lodge, Castleknock. Photo: Colin Keegan

President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were among political leaders casting their votes in yesterday's abortion referendum.

Counting will begin this morning, with the result expected later this afternoon.

Polls for the historic vote opened across the country at 7am, with citizens opting to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits terminations unless a mother's life is in danger.

Amid reports of a brisk morning turnout, Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina cast their votes in Dublin at 9.30am, while the Taoiseach, a vocal advocate for repeal, voted in the city at around 11.15am.

Democracy

"I always get a little buzz from voting, it just feels like it is democracy in action," Mr Varadkar said after emerging from the polling station at Castleknock.

"Not taking anything for granted of course, but quietly confident - there's been good turnout across the country so far and hoping for a Yes vote."

He urged voters not to be distracted by the sun and exercise their democratic right.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin voted to repeal in his constituency in Cork, while Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald also cast a Yes vote in Dublin.

However, her Sinn Fein party colleague and vocal anti-abortion campaigner Peadar Toibin called on Irish people to vote No to "abortion on demand".

"The irony that the referendum on abortion is being held on International Missing Children's Day will not be lost on many Irish people," he tweeted.

Mary Lou McDonald presents her identity documents at St Joseph's School, Dublin. Photo: PA
Mary Lou McDonald presents her identity documents at St Joseph's School, Dublin. Photo: PA

"Those on the margins of society suffer most from abortion. Vote no to abortion on demand."

A total of 3.3 million citizens were registered to vote, with 6,500 polling stations open across the country.

If the public has voted Yes, the Government intends to legislate by the end of the year to make it relatively easy for a woman to obtain the procedure in early pregnancy.

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