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An Open Letter To Every Single Person In Ireland Who Voted Yes

By Sarah

May 26, 2018 at 6:21pm

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On Thursday night, referendum eve, a Dublin taxi driver told me he was voting yes so that he never had to drop another girl off at the airport as she sat alone in the back of the car, crying. He knew where she was going. 

"It's not right", he said, and today the people of Ireland proved that they know it's not right. Yesterday's vote was won by people like him, and like you, supporters that we didn't even realise we had.

The vote was won by you. 

Today, the 26th of May 2018, will go down in history as the day that Irish people united to give women the rights we should have always had. 

While there were whispers in the past few weeks that the vote 'would be tight', the emotional final results today show that 66.4% of the nation voted in favour of Yes. Yes to women, yes to bodily autonomy, and yes to trust.

So to all of you who placed an 'X' beside Yes on your ballot paper, this is a letter for you. 


The victory of this vote comes 35 long years after the previous referendum that placed a constitutional ban on abortion and granted equal rights to mother and the unborn. It was passed with a 67% majority and will now be repealed by a new generation and a generation whose voices are finally being heard.

This time around, the vote was won by you. It was won by stories shared over steaming pots of tea at kitchen tables all over the country, stories that had never been told before of shame and hushed up journeys to Liverpool.  

It was won by the smiling canvassers who handed out flyers along the Grand Canal as I walked to work each morning. They were my secret guardians from the graphic Vote No posters, and I bet that plenty of other women privately thanked them for helping that particular journey not to bring up painful memories of another journey taken alone. 

RTE's exit poll results show that 43% of people who voted yes were influenced by people's stories shared in the media. Women such as Tara Flynn, Roisin Ingle and Saoirse Long bravely shared their personal experiences and helped to break down the stigma of shame surrounding abortion in our country. Anonymous and heartbreaking stories were shared on the stellar In Her Shoes Facebook page. All those woman have won today.

The vote was won by you. 

The path to repealing the Eighth Amendment was a grassroots movement in its finest form - strangers coming together to knock on doors for chats, pop-up shops selling Repeal merch by Ana Cosgrave, artists such as Maser spreading the word through powerful pieces. 

Crowdfunding campaigns such as that by Together for Yes (the national civil society campaign to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution) reached over €580,000 in just seven days, with the average donation from people - people like you - just €40. 

The vote was won by people who never even shared their thoughts on the referendum but were still one of the first in line to cast their vote, hands hovering over the 'Tá' on the ballot paper. 

Many of us - myself included - wrongly thought that rural Ireland would have a different attitude to those in Dublin when it came to the vote. But no, it was won by you too. 

Rather than being the divisive result that some expected, today's voting results show that this is quite possibly the most unifying referendum in Ireland's lifespan. 

Women who have been forced to travel for abortions, or take pills in their bathrooms at home, can hopefully find a small bit of peace today as the news sinks in that their country - our country - supports the choice they had to make and will no longer fail them when it comes to crisis pregnancies. 

Our old pal WB Yeats spoke back in 1925 on Ireland's tolerance levels, saying "I have no doubt whatever that, when the iceberg melts it will become an exceedingly tolerant country.” 

Looks like that iceberg has finally thawed out. You have won the vote. We have all won.

To everyone who made this country the place it is today, the best 26th day of May there ever was: thank you. 

Header image: heyrose.ie/Instagram & together4yes/Instagram

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