Counting under way in Ireland’s twin referenda

Counting is now under way in twin referenda on proposed changes the Constitution in Ireland.

The boxes were opened at 9am after the public went to the polls on Friday to vote on whether to change the wording of the Constitution relating to the areas of family and care.

Results for both will be announced separately later on Saturday.

Irish constitution referenda
Members of the public arrive at a polling station in Dublin (Gareth Chaney/PA)

There was a low turnout reported throughout the day, with some areas understood to be less than 30% of registered voters.

There was a slight uplift at polling stations as people made their home on Friday evening, however it is thought that numbers remained lower compared to previous referenda.

The two questions will be counted separately, with both results expected to be declared at Dublin Castle by Saturday evening.

The family amendment will be counted and declared first.

Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina voted at their polling station at St Mary’s Hospital in Phoenix Park on Friday.

It is the first time Mr Higgins, 82, has been seen in public since he was discharged from hospital on Thursday.

Irish constitution referenda
Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina voting at Phoenix Park (Cate McCurry/PA)

He was admitted to St James’ Hospital in Dublin last Thursday evening after experiencing a “mild transient weakness”.

After a seven-night stay, he returned to his official residence, Aras an Uachtarain, on Thursday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tanaiste Micheal Martin and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald also voted in the referenda.

The family amendment proposes extending the meaning of family beyond one defined by marriage and to include those based on “durable” relationships.

The care amendment proposes deleting references to a woman’s roles and duties in the home, and replacing it with a new article that acknowledges family carers.

The Constitution is the fundamental legal document for the country and can only be changed with the approval of Irish citizens through a national vote.

The campaigns have led to national debates over the role of women in the home, what responsibility the State has for care and the meaning of family.

The Irish Government campaigned for a yes vote in both amendments. It says the changes will remove sexist language, recognise family care and extend protection to families not based on marriage.

The result of the referenda will be decided by majority.

Counting of the ballots happens at a constituency basis at various centres around the country.