Taoiseach urges people to get out and vote

The Taoiseach has made a final call to people to come out to vote today in what he has described as “once-in-a-generation decision” for Irish citizens.

Campaigning for a yes vote, Leo Varadkar said he finds it “difficult to contemplate” a no vote but must be realistic this is a possibility.

“I think it would send out the wrong message, not just to women but about our society. There has been in Ireland a legacy of shame in many ways the fact that 170,000 women have had to travel sometimes in secret to another jurisdiction to end their pregnancies and I hope that a yes vote will help to lift that stigma, help to take away that legacy of shame that exists in our society.”

He added that he is taking nothing for granted as opinion polls have been wrong before:

“This is a once-in-a-generation decision for the Irish people, I would really encourage everyone to come out to vote, particularly those of you who are voting yes and it is an opportunity for us to change our country.

“On Sunday if there is a yes vote it will still be the same country that it is today, but it will be a country that is a little bit more compassionate, one that recognises the realities and the problems women face.”

Mr Varadkar added that he is confident that if the referendum passes, legislation can be passed through the Oireachtas before the end of the year.

“In terms of the legislation we would anticipate having that published before the summer recess and having it through the Dáil and Seanad and enacted before the end of the year.

“I hope and trust that the vast majority of TDs will respect the decision of the Irish people if it is a yes vote, there will still be a free vote for TDs and senators for sure.”

At their final campaign event before the vote, Together For Yes said Irish adults have been given “extraordinary power” to vote for change today.

Spokeswoman, Sarah Monaghan, said: “We would urge everyone to exercise your democratic power and vote yes to ensure we can care for and be compassionate towards women in these difficult situations.

Speaking in the Dáil, Pearse Doherty said wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, colleagues, and friends need everyone’s vote.

“They need and deserve our compassion. They also deserve our trust, our trust in them to make medical decisions about their own bodies in their own interest.

“We all know that women in crisis situations, including victims of rape, those whose health is at serious risk, and those who receive the awful diagnosis that their baby has no chance of survival, are already travelling week in, week out to have an abortion in another country, or they are taking abortion pills in this country without medical supervision.”

Together for Yes campaigner Orla O’Connor said nothing will change for couples who receive a devastating diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality if the referendum does not pass.

The group said that it has handed out 250,000 yes badges since the start of the campaign, have knocked on 500,000 doors. Meanwhile, 6,000 repeal jumpers have been sold.

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