Finally, after a six week campaign, the country is ready to vote.
According to the National Youth Council today, there has been a huge increase in voter registration ahead of the referendum, with registration figures for Galway rising by a massive 97%.
And with thousands of new voters, the turnout is expected to be high this time around – much higher than in the 8th Amendment referendum in 1983.
Back in 1983, only 53% of eligible Irish people voted.
In Galway East, the turnout was 50% and in Galway West it was even lower, at 41%.
The results are also expected to be much different than when the referendum passed with a 67% Yes vote in 1983.
Galway East recorded one of the country’s highest Yes votes back then (80.3%), while Galway West was below the national average with just 64.5 % voting in favour of the 8th Amendment.
Some of Dublin’s constituencies were the only ones to vote No in the referendum – 58% of Dún Laoghaire voters said No, and the urban constituencies are again expected to be the least conservative.
For this week’s referendum, an estimated 125,000 people were added to the supplementary electoral register between February and the recent May 8th deadline (based on figures from 14 councils).
And across Galway, both sides are hitting the streets in a final push to win over undecided voters.
Yesterday, a Galway Pro-Choice group said it reported a local business-owner to the gardaí who was removing posters in the city.
Last week, Declan Ganley’s brother was allegedly assaulted while erecting pro-life posters.
And while the battles continue on the ground, the latest opinion polls show that the Yes side still has a large lead.
The Sunday Business Post/Red C poll published yesterday shows that 56% are in favour of Repeal while the No side are still at 27%. The rest still don’t know or refused to answer.
With undecideds tending to veer towards the conservative side in referendums when it’s time to enter the polling stations, the Yes side will likely win with around 60% of the vote.
Galway East, judging from previous votes, is likely to be closer to 50 – 50 (with the Yes side still likely to win), while Galway West is very likely to vote for Repeal.
Sinn Féin was one of the only parties to oppose the amendment in 1983, but at that time, the party didn’t have any TDs or recognise the southern Irish parliament.
Now, the party is campaigning on the same side – for Repeal – with its new president Mary Lou McDonald’s face on Yes posters across the country.
“The only way we can help women facing crisis is by returning a YES vote and removing the eighth amendment from the constitution,” said an Uachtarán Shinn Féin.
“I think it is important in this debate that we deal in fact. I have heard assertions from the NO campaign and its spokespeople that the so-called hard cases – pregnancies as a result of rape or fatal foetal abnormality – can be dealt with under the current constitutional framework.
“This is patently untrue.
“The very same people making these false assertions themselves campaigned against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill in 2013.
“This Bill, now widely recognised as being wholly inadequate, allowed doctors to intervene when a woman’s life is at risk; i.e. the bare minimum of care.
“They talked of floodgates opening, abortion becoming widely available and were ultimately proved wrong as they will be in this instance.
“The eighth amendment blocks any action to legislate in this or any other instances. We know this because we tried. Two separate Private Members Bills on these issues were rejected on the advice of the Attorney General.
“There is only one way that we can help women in these circumstances and that is by voting YES on Friday and removing the eighth amendment. To suggest otherwise is to be totally disingenuous,” she added.