Despite a narrow defeat in Donegal, Inishowen’s ‘yes’ campaigners were positive, pointing out how the county’s attitude had changed considerably since the last abortion referendum.
Donegal voted by 35,091 votes not to repeal the 8th Amendment, while 32,559 voted yes. In Inishowen, unofficial tallies showed that around 54% of the peninsula said no and 46% yes.
Inishowen woman Sinead Stewart, who was media co-ordinator for Donegal Together for Yes, said she was “delighted” with the result in the peninsula and Donegal.
She said: “I’m not disappointed, because it’s not unexpected. I wasn’t expecting anything, so I’m delighted with the result in Donegal. I am massively proud of all those people who put their time and effort into campaigning for a yes vote here.”
In 1983, Donegal voted by 82% to restrict abortion, so this referendum represented a near 30% change in attitude, which Sinead said was a huge shift. “We offered the facts and we weren’t pushy. We wanted to give people as much information as possible and we changed minds. That’s something to be proud of,” she said.
Sinead conceded how there was ‘always a protest vote’ and said Donegal and Inishowen may have tried to make their views known on issues outside of the 8th. She said: “It does reflect what’s happening infrastructurally here and with issues such as compensation for Mica homes, etc. Inishowen voting ‘no’ is no surprise to us.”
Sinead told how she was ‘over the moon’ with the landslide yes vote nationally, admitting how she ‘bawled crying’ when she saw the first exit polls. She added: “Not one political party or entity can take credit for this. This has been driven by ordinary women and men. For over 30 years, it has been a grassroots movement. I don’t think we’re going to see the same Ireland again. Donegal women now have bodily autonomy, despite certain people wishing that they didn’t.”
Cathaoirlach of Inishowen, Sinn Fein Colr. Jack Murray, who campaigned for a yes vote, said he did not believe there was any “one reason” for the no vote in Inishowen. “I had a lot of conversations throughout the campaign and encountered a lot of people who indicated they were voting no - very good people I’ve known all my life. They had their reasons and I can understand why people have strongly held beliefs.”
He added: “What’s important now is to work to reconcile the differences. Despite the fact it’s a no vote here, there has definitely been a shift in attitudes since the last referendum.”