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#HomeToVote: Irish expats snap up flights as abortion referendum date is set

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#HomeToVote: Irish expats snap up flights as abortion referendum date is set

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REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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Irish men and women living abroad are rushing to book tickets home to vote in the country’s highly-anticipated referendum on abortion rights after the government announced on Wednesday that it will be held on May 25.

The referendum on whether to repeal a constitutional amendment from 1983 that effectively bans terminations does not allow postal votes from outside of Ireland, and requires returning voters not to have lived outside of Ireland for more than 18 months.

The London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign has urged people who meet the criteria to travel home to boost support for repealing the ban.

The group estimates 40,000 Irish people living abroad are eligible to vote.

Since the date was announced on Wednesday, scores of people living in countries across Europe and beyond have taken to social media to share details of their travel plans under the hashtag #HomeToVote.

Most of those posting about their travel plans have been supporting reforms.

One of those who shared her plans, 23-year-old university student Robyn Maguire, has been living in the Netherlands for around seven months. She told Euronews she always knew "that if there was ever going to be a referendum I would do everything in my power to come home and vote."

"I’m lucky I’m in a place financially, with the help of my parents, who are also both pro-choice, that it is something I could do,” she said.

Some tweeted their support for preserving the ban, saying there would also be a lot of "no" voters returning home for the divisive referendum.

Others called simply for people to return to exercise their right to vote on either side.