'Now Irish women can have what was their right,' says veteran Donegal campaigner Nora Newell.
As Ireland has voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, today is an exciting and rewarding day for Nora Newell of Donegal Together for Yes.
The Galway native who moved to Letterkenny in the 80s has campaigned for women’s rights for decades. She marched in the 1979 Women’s March in London, she campaigned against the Eighth Amendment in 1983 and every referendum since.
Today’s national result to Repeal the Eighth is a step forward for Irish women’s rights, Nora said.
Speaking to Donegal Woman at the Letterkenny count, Nora said she has felt excitement and elation since last night’s exit polls showed a landslide victory for Yes.
Donegal has voted against the proposal by 48.13% Yes to 51.87% No – the only constituency in Ireland to vote No. Parts of Donegal in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency including Ballyshannon and Bundoran, voted heavily in favour of repeal with over 60% in the Yes vote.
“As a constituency we have voted no, but as a county we have voted Yes,” Nora said.
“Last night I had the confidence to say it was going to pass but still there was still always a bit of nervousness. After the poll I thought ‘Yes!’.
“The Donegal result is disappointing but if I hadn’t seen the polls I think I’d be happy because the swing is so big.”
Nora said she has been amazed by the passion of young people taking action, sharing their views and voting in the referendum.
She said: “It is so inspiring to meet so many young people campaigning. The young influence was amazing.
“They are so clear and calm, and they understand it. They know it is what they want, this is their right for them, this is their right to control their bodies.”
Nora said that she and the Together for Yes campaign have faced strong levels of animosity during canvassing in recent weeks, but today’s result has proven to be a clear national victory for the group.
She said: “I have been screamed at on the street, people have called me a murderer and a killer and that I should be ashamed of myself.
“And so for me, the biggest thing now is that Irish women can have what was their right and they no longer need to be ashamed.”