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Results of the Referenda in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland, Friday 22 May 1998

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Text and Research: Martin Melaugh and Fionnuala McKenna
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The 1998 Referenda on 'The Agreement'

government referendum poster

The following is a first draft of the results of the 1998 Referenda held in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on Friday 22 May 1998.


On 22 May 1998 referenda were held in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on 'The Agreement' reached during the multi-party talks at Stormont. The referenda were envisaged as an integral part of the peace process. Following the signing of The Agreement on Good Friday, 10 April 1998, the next stage was the putting of the contents of of the Agreement to the people in Ireland, North and South. The final stage of the process will be an election on 25 June 1998 to a Northern Ireland Assembly.

Many commentators described the referenda as 'historic' and in many respects the 22 May 1998 was a unique day in the history of politics in Ireland in the 20th century. Not since the general election of 1918 have the people of Ireland voted on an All-Ireland basis.

Summary of Results in Northern Ireland

Electorate: 1,175,403
Turnout: 953,583
Turnout (percentage): 80.98%
Spoilt votes: 1,738
Total Valid Vote: 951,845

The question on the referendum ballot paper was:
Do you support the agreement reached in the multi-party talks on Northern Ireland and set out in Command Paper 3883?
[Command Paper 3883 is the technical parliamentary term for the Belfast Agreement]

Number of Votes
Percentage of Votes

In Northern Ireland the electorate were asked a simple question on whether or not they supported The Agreement. In the Northern Ireland the turnout was 80.98 per cent. Of those who voted 71.12 per cent voted YES, that is in favour of The Agreement, and 28.88 per cent voted NO, that is against the Agreement.

The referendum in Northern Ireland was carried out on a single constituency basis so it was not possible to give a breakdown of the 'yes' and 'no' figures into the two main communities. This did not stop the 'Yes' and 'No' camps claiming that the majority of Unionists has supported their position. The best estimates indicated that the over-whelming majority of Catholics / Nationalists voted 'Yes' perhaps as many as 96 or 97 per cent. In the case of Protestants / Unionists who voted 'yes' it is estimated that the figure was between 51 and 53 per cent.

Summary of Results in the Republic or Ireland

Electorate: 2,753,127
Turnout: 1,545,395
Turnout (percentage): 56.1%
Spoilt votes: 17,064
Total Valid Vote: 1,528,331

The question on the referendum ballot paper was:
Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill, the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1998?

Number of Votes
Percentage of Votes


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CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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