Ireland abortion: Donegal Mass-goers air their views

By Erinn Kerr

image captionFr Francis Bradley told the congregation at St Mary's Oratory in Buncrana that he had woken up overcome with sadness

For Fr Francis Bradley, the result of Ireland's abortion referendum has left people in County Donegal feeling like "foreigners in their own country".

"But so be it," he said.

Voters in the county - the only one in the Republic of Ireland to reject overturning Ireland's abortion law - bucked the national trend with 51.9% backing No in Friday's referendum.

On Sunday, Mass-goers in Buncrana, in the north of the county, reflected on the landslide result, and it was clearly difficult for some.

Fionan Bradley said he had "lost sleep" over the outcome.

"I'm so proud of Donegal," he told BBC News NI.

"We stood up when it was a hard thing to do - especially for younger voters.

image captionFionan Bradley said he was proud of Donegal

"We will consult with the medical staff and see if they will take on this procedure and if they start opening private clinics we will protest - that's all we can do. We'll make sure women know they can get help in other ways."

The national statistic was 66.4% in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment and 33.6% against.

In Donegal though, 48% voted yes and 52% said no. It was the only constituency to reject repeal.

Inside St Mary's, Fr Bradley told his congregation that he had woken up overcome by sadness.

'Deeply troubling'

He said that the "death penalty had been reintroduced for the most innocent victims".

Fr Bradley said the celebrations in Dublin on Saturday were "deeply troubling" and that the parish should be proud that it had "held out hope".

He said the church would renew its pastoral outreach to women who felt they could not cope.

"This vote changes nothing other than removing the state's protection of human life - so it becomes our responsibility again," he said.

"Here we will continue to welcome life, we will be a beacon of light in the darkness."

image captionElizabeth McKenna Quigley said Donegal's rejection of repeal was important for no voters throughout the country

Mass-goer Elizabeth McKenna Quigley said she was shocked by the result, but proud of the people in Donegal who voted no.

She said it was important for no voters all over Ireland to see at least one place where the No vote had prevailed.

Michael Quigley said Donegal voted no because "we still have the Catholic faith here".

"We will stand by what we voted for - we'll keep flying the flag for babies.

"It's such a shame to see the rest of Ireland are losing their faith."

Those who campaigned for yes in Donegal said they were proud that almost half of voters in the county had backed yes.

In 1983, 85% of Donegal voters backed the Eighth Amendment so the result represents a seismic shift in attitudes.

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