Two major exit polls have projected that Irish voters have repealed a constitutional ban on abortions.
The exit polls by RTE television and the Irish Times both project a landslide victory for the "yes" forces seeking to liberalize the strict abortion ban.
The RTE poll projects support will reach nearly 70 percent. The exit polls are only projections and official vote counts are expected Saturday afternoon.
Catherine Murphy, co-leader of the small Social Democrats party, said the exit polls "are strongly indicating that voters have taken on board the clear message that the constitutional ban harms women" and must be removed from the constitution.
The exit polls suggest strong support in virtually all parts of the country for repealing the ban.
If the "yes" vote is confirmed, Ireland's parliament will be tasked with writing new regulations on abortion.
An Irish Times exit poll suggests Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to repeal its constitutional ban on abortion.
The survey by pollster Ipsos-MRBI says 68 percent of voters backed repeal of the ban and 32 percent opposed it in Friday's referendum.
The pollster says it interviewed some 4,000 people about how they had voted and the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.
Polls closed at 10 p.m. Friday and counting will take place Saturday. The exit poll is only a prediction and the official count will be announced Saturday in the afternoon or evening.
A second exit poll by a major television network is expected later Friday night.
Supporters of liberalizing Ireland's strict abortion ban have given an ecstatic welcome to the Irish people abroad who have travelled home to vote in the country's historic referendum on abortion.
Several activists gathered at Dublin Airport's arrivals hall, holding a large "Welcome Home" banner. Others held a placard reading "Thank you for making the journey so other women don't have to."
One female traveller was seen dancing in joy as she arrived, as the activists whooped and cheered.
Thousands of Irish people have been returning home to take part in Friday's referendum on whether to repeal the country's constitutional ban on almost all abortions. Voters have used the hashtag #Hometovote on social media.
A plane carrying Irish voters trying to return home to vote in the abortion referendum has collided with another plane on a taxiway at a London-area airport, delaying passengers but causing no injuries.
Ryanair says the winglet of a Primera plane traveling flight to Malaga clipped the tail of a stationary Dublin-bound Ryanair passenger plane at Stansted Airport, northeast of London.
The airport described the 9.15 a.m. incident on Friday as being "minor."
Thousands of Irish citizens have been returning home to vote in a referendum on whether to liberalize abortion laws. Voters, who have come from as far away as Australia, have been chronicling their journeys under the hashtag #Hometovote on social media.
Voters throughout Ireland have begun casting votes in a referendum that may lead to a loosening of the country's strict ban on most abortions.
The referendum Friday will decide whether the eighth amendment of the constitution is repealed, which would open the way for more liberal legislation.
The amendment, in place since 1983, requires authorities to equally protect the right to life of a mother and that of a fetus, from the moment of conception.
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar tweeted his support for the bill before a moratorium on campaigning took effect Thursday. He urged people to vote "yes" in favor of repeal.
Results are not expected until Saturday afternoon or evening.
Voting has already taken place on Ireland's offshore islands.
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