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Ireland votes by two-to-one landslide to reform strict abortion laws

Referendum returning officer Barry Ryan said a majority of more than 700,000 voted Yes to repeal.

Ireland has voted by 66.4% to 33.6% in favour of changing its strict abortion laws.

The public decided by a two-to-one landslide to repeal part of the state’s constitution which effectively prohibits terminations unless a mother’s life is endangered.

A referendum was held on Friday and produced overwhelming consensus for reform amongst men and women, nearly all classes and age groups, and across most counties in Ireland.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed the culmination of a “quiet revolution” and said a new law could be in place before the end of the year.

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(PA Graphics)

Referendum returning officer Barry Ryan said a majority of more than 700,000 voted Yes to repeal.

About two million people voted and results showed urban dwellers and a significant proportion of rural voters backed repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the constitution.

In parts of Dublin almost 80% favoured liberalising restrictions on abortion in early pregnancy.

About 170,000 Irish women have travelled to the UK and other places for the procedure since 1980.

Pollsters suggested the stories of women forced to travel or take illegal pills obtained on the internet helped sway public opinion, as well as the death of an Indian dentist denied the procedure while she miscarried.

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Pro-choice campaigners and supporters celebrate at the count centre in Dublin’s RDS (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ministers have promised to allow terminations within the first 12 weeks, subject to medical advice and a cooling-off period, and between 12 and 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances.

Mr Varadkar said the result represented “the culmination of a quiet revolution”, one that had been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 to 20 years.

Crowds gathered in the courtyard at Dublin Castle to hear the result began chanting “Savita, Savita”, in reference to dentist Savita Halappanavar, 31, who died in an Irish hospital after she was refused a termination while she miscarried.

Others shouted “Yes We Did” in a version of former US president Barack Obama’s famous campaigning slogan.

Champagne was sprayed and one woman handed out After Eight chocolates in a reference to the eighth amendment.

Mr Varadkar said the result was a once-in-a-generation act.

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Emotions run high as the official results are announced (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We voted to look reality in the eye and we did not blink and voted to provide compassion where there was once a cold shoulder.”

Thousands were in the castle courtyard by the time the official results were announced shortly after about 6.15pm on Saturday.

Some supporters dressed as angels, while hundreds wore jumpers and T-shirts with campaign slogans.

Maeve Conway, 21, had decorated her dog Baby’s harness with Yes badges.

She said: “There’s an array of emotions today. Happy, sad that it had to happen. For 35 years we were waiting for this.

“It’s a huge change for Irish women.”

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