It was a victory for the ‘no’ side in Donegal, who were delighted, but predictably muted in their celebrations.
It had been clear from early in the morning at the Letterkenny count centre that ‘no’ to repeal was just edging it in the constituency, the only one in the country to do so.
The Inishowen boxes were some of the first open, with the majority of them returning a no vote.
Amid a landslide national victory for the pro-choice campaign, the narrow Donegal victory was a big positive in what was a difficult day for the pro-life team.
Buncrana man, Christopher Flanagan, said the pro-life message was “strong in Inishowen.”
He said: “At a national level, people were sold the idea that this was a women’s healthcare issue. The vast majority bought into that. But Inishowen saw that it was more serious than that. 17,000 babies will be aborted each year. That’s not compassion. The impact of that in areas like Letterkenny seems to have been lost, but it wasn’t in Inishowen.”
Christopher said that he had been wary of the exit poll results which stated that Ulster had voted yes and, with that, Donegal had followed suit. He said: “When I saw it, I couldn’t accept that Donegal was complicit in that.”
He described the overall result as ‘nothing short of a national tragedy.’
“What happens a country that kills its unborn children?” he questioned.
Christopher said the work of pro-life groups had now increased “ten-fold.”
He went on: “We must establish a network of crisis centres for women. There will be abortion centres set up around Ireland - hospitals are not going to be able to cope with this.”
Christopher added how people in Donegal did not trust the word of the government. “About 20 years ago the government produced a map showing Inishowen as a part of Northern Ireland. That explains, in my mind, why Inishowen is a strong no.”
Despite Donegal’s ‘no’ vote, Christopher said the increase in the ‘yes’ side since the last referendum means they cannot be complacent.
“If we let this continue, in 10 years we could be looking at a yes result in Donegal. Abortion is a cancer coming across the whole country. We’re looking at years of massacre.”