Published On: Mon, Mar 11th, 2024

Brutal map leaves Brexit-hater Leo Varadkar humiliated after crushing referendum defeat | Politics | News

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar’s Government was defeated in every area of Ireland except one (Image: GETTY)

, Ireland’s staunchly Europhile Taoiseach, has suffered a crushing defeat in a nationwide referendum aimed at changing the country’s constitution to widen the definition of family.

The overwhelmingly rejected proposals put forward by Mr Varadkar’s coalition government which would have removed the so-called “woman in the home” clause, with more than two-thirds voting no.

In response, MP Brendan Clarke-Smith took a pointed dig at the Fine Gail leader, sharing a map which showed Mr Varadkar had been defeated in every single area in the entire country except one.

The public rejected the proposed changes on family, with 67 percent of people voting against the amendment.

The proposed changes to care were also overwhelmingly defeated, with 73 percent voting against them.

The only area in the whole of Ireland to vote Yes was Dun Laoghaire, and even then only by 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent.

The referendum returning officer Barry Ryan made the official declarations at Dublin Castle on Saturday evening.

Turnout was 44.36 percent, a significant drop from the abortion referendum in 2018, which saw 64 of those eligible casting a vote.

Posting on X, Bassetlaw MP Mr Clarke-Smith, in a clear reference to the aftermath of the 2016 referendum in the UK, quipped: “Waiting for somebody to ask for a ‘People’s Vote’”. Mr Varadkar was a vocal supporter of the EU in the debate which followed, famously claiming that Brexit would result in “falling into relative economic decline”.

Earlier, Mr Vardkar said it was clear that both referendums had been “defeated comprehensively”, admitting the electorate had given his Government “two wallops”.

Count And Declaration Of The Referendum To Update The Definition Of Family In Ireland

Leo Varadkar admitted the electorate had given his Government ‘two wallops’ (Image: Getty)

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.

The high number of no votes signalled an embarrassing defeat for the Government.

Speaking at Dublin Castle, Mr Varadkar said: “I think it’s clear at this stage that the family amendment and the care amendment referendums have been defeated, defeated comprehensively on a respectable turnout.

“The Government accepts the results and will respect it fully.

Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith

Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith (Image: Parliament)

“As head of Government, on behalf of the Government, we accept responsibility for the results.”

Mr Varadkar continued: “It was our responsibility to convince a majority of people to vote yes and we clearly failed to do so.

“I think we struggle to convince people of the necessity or need for the referendum at all, let alone detail on the wording.

“That’s obviously something we’re going to have to reflect on into the weeks ahead.

“What I do want to say to people, though, is that when it comes to the work of Government, in relation to gender equality, in relation to improving conditions for carers, in relation to giving rights for people with disabilities, that work will continue.”

Count And Declaration Of The Referendum To Update The Definition Of Family In Ireland

Sinn Fein leader Mary-Lou McDonald campaigned for a double-yes (Image: Getty)

Mr Varadkar also admitted the Irish Government “clearly got it wrong”.

Referring to the former Taoiseach, he explained: “I think Enda Kenny famously said once that the electorate often gives the Government a wallop – this is two wallops.

“Well, look, clearly we got it wrong.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party is “very much” in touch with the Irish public despite the result.

Her party advocated for a “yes-yes” vote in Ireland’s ballot on family and care.

She said: “No, we’re very, very much in touch with people, and you’ll recall that I said from the get-go, that we were very much in favour of removing sexist language from the Constitution, very much in favour of an inclusive definition of families.

“But we knew that the Government did come up short in terms of the caring wording. They disregarded the Citizens’ Assembly, they didn’t consult with opposition or with other stakeholders. They didn’t collaborate, and they failed to convince.”

Ms McDonald said Sinn Fein will “return to” consideration of the “sexist language” in Ireland’s Constitution if the party is in the next government.

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

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

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