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Voting closes in referenda over changes to Constitution

Voting has finished in referenda on proposed changes to the Constitution in Ireland.

Polling stations across the country closed at 10pm in the votes on whether to change the wording of the Constitution relating to the areas of family and care.

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 has been seen in public since he was discharged from hospital on Thursday.

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

Mr Higgins, 82, 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.

Polls opened on Friday morning on the twin referenda.

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.

Irish constitution referenda
Yes badges at an event in Dublin (Cillian Sherlock/PA)

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, which are decided by majority, are expected on Saturday.

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

However, the overall national result will be declared at Dublin Castle.

The family amendment will be counted and declared first.

The results for the care amendment will not be processed until the family count is finished.