They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn, and it certainly felt that way, during both the bitter campaign on repealing the Eight Amendment, and awaiting the final Wicklow tally in Shoreline this afternoon.
Again and again, the returning officer, Mary Delahunty, made her way to the makeshift stage, gave her papers a good shuffle, cleared her throat, looked out at the eager ensemble, and then proceeded to make yet another phone call.
Or just walk back down the few steps to talk with her deputies once more. Axl Rose would have been proud.
After a highly-divisive, six-week campaign that felt like ten years of heartfelt pleas, contradictory information, nasty posters and dodgy foreign financing, we were about to find out how not only Greystones but the entire county of Wicklow voted on the referendum to repeal the Eight Amendment, and thus bring Ireland in line with its European neighbours.
The early word was strong for a Yes vote, with both The Irish Times and RTE issuing exit polls late on Friday night that suggested at least two-thirds of the country were in favour of repealing.
The fact that we live in the time of Trump and Brexit though proves that exit polls can be wrong – very wrong – and it wasn’t until the first ballot box in Greystones was counted, revealing an 82% Yes vote, that people began to believe that, this time, all the signs might just be right.
In the end, out of an electorate of 17,114, 10,284 voted Yes whilst 2,682 voted No, with just 37 thickos forgetting how to spell X. With 12,516 Greystonians voting – that 73% of the electorate – 79.3% voted Yes and 20.7% voted No.
On the Wicklow front, out of the 99,062 eligible to vote, 73,763 crossed that repeal X. Of those, 273 were spoilt, leaving 73,560 valid votes. Of those, 53,659 voted Yes and 18,931 voted No. Which is 74.1% in favour in the county, and 25.9% against. Or thereabouts. That compares with a nationwide 68% in favour.
It was a referendum campaign that brought up a lot of ugly, (including the fine TDs, left, who voted against even having the referendum), opened up a lot of old wounds, but also still managed to spark a lot of love. Hopefully, both sides have learnt something from the whole experience. More importantly, added to the gay marriage referendum being passed in November 2015, Ireland has taken another giant step forward. Into the late 20th century.
Boom! Before you know it, we’ll be all caught up with the rest of the civilised world, as Irish women fought a ridiculous law, and mná won. Bejiggers.
Oh, and next time, is there any way Wicklow could afford a microphone and a speaker for that all-important final tally announcement? Even just a megaphone could make all the difference…
To provide the best experiences, we use technologies like cookies to store and/or access device information. Consenting to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behaviour or unique IDs on this site. Not consenting or withdrawing consent, may adversely affect certain features and functions.
Functional Always active
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.