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Home to vote: Irish citizens urged to travel for abortion referendum

Northern Ireland Humanists and Humanists UK are encouraging all Republic of Ireland citizens living in the UK to travel to Ireland to vote in the upcoming referendum on the repeal of the controversial Eighth Amendment to the Republic of Ireland constitution on Friday 25 May.

The repeal of the Eighth Amendment would remove one of the harshest abortion restrictions in the world, where women can face up to 14 years in prison for seeking an abortion in almost any circumstance.

On average eleven women a day are forced to travel abroad from the Republic of Ireland to access abortion services causing them unnecessary expense, delays, anguish, and medical complications. Humanists UK and Northern Ireland Humanists believe the repeal of the Eighth Amendment is essential to the realisation of women’s rights and the right to health care in Ireland.

These groups, which also campaign for legal abortion access in Northern Ireland and for taking abortion out of the criminal statute across the UK, have put together the following guidance for Republic of Ireland citizens considering going home to vote, with credit to the London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign’s hometovote.com website for much of the original research.

Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator and Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, ‘If you can travel home to vote to repeal the Eighth, you must. For this one trip home, you can prevent eleven women a day from having to make a flight in the opposite direction. And if you can’t vote, we urge you to contact your friends and family who can, to explain to them why they should vote to repeal.’

Guidance on how to vote – and what to do if you can’t

I am a Republic of Ireland citizen living abroad, can I vote in the referendum?

  • You will be eligible to vote if you have lived in the Republic of Ireland in the last 18 months, even if you are currently living abroad. Check the register to make sure you are still on the electoral register.
  • If you are not on the electoral register, you can still apply to be added to a supplementary register for the referendum. You will need to fill out either a Supplementary Registration-Form RFA2 or a Supplementary Change of Address-Form RFA3, and have this witnessed at a Garda station.   

I am eligible to take part in the referendum but living abroad, do I have to return to Ireland to vote?

  • Yes. There is no mechanism for voting overseas with the exception of Republic of Ireland state officials who are abroad on duty. You need to take a trip home.
  • Flights from London to Dublin cost around €30 and €45 from Glasgow to Dublin. Check out the latest prices.
  • There are also numerous ferry lines between the UK and Ireland including from Liverpool, Cairnryan, and Holyhead. You can also buy a combined rail and ferry ticket.
  • Polling stations close at 22:00 so make sure you arrive in time to vote. There may be queues at polling stations.

I am not eligible to vote, what can I do to help?

  • Speak out! You may not be able to vote but you still can persuade others to vote for repeal. Get on social media, and get involved in your local pro-repeal group! Get the message out there.
  • If you have Irish parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, you can help women across Ireland by giving them a phone call to discuss the issue and explain why the right to choose is so important. Older people are more likely to vote, but less likely to support repeal, so it’s particularly important that younger people with Irish family call home and have these conversations.

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan on rachel@humanism.org.uk or 07951 176 245, or Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator on boyd.sleator@nihumanists.org or on 07470 395090.

With credit to the London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign’s https://hometovote.com/ website for much of the original research.

Check if you are on the Republic of Ireland electoral register: https://www.checktheregister.ie/PublicPages/Default.aspx

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaigns work on abortion: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/sexual-and-reproductive-rights/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

Northern Ireland Humanists is a part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland.

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