Northern Ireland referendum, 1998

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The Northern Ireland referendum of 1998 was a referendum held in Northern Ireland only over whether there was support for the Good Friday Agreement.

Contents

Party support

All the main UK political parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat) supported the Yes campaign, though the local branch of the Conservatives supported the No campaign. Of the local Northern Ireland parties represented in the Northern Ireland Peace Forum, the Ulster Unionist Party, Social Democratic and Labour Party, Sinn Fein, Alliance, Progressive Unionist Party, Ulster Democratic Party, Northern Ireland Women's Coalition and local "Labour" groups supported the proposals.

The only two parties in the Forum to campaign against the Agreement were the Democratic Unionist Party and the UK Unionist Party, though many prominent individuals in the Ulster Unionists also did so. Some minor parties campaigned against it.

Results

Another referendum on the agreement was held in the Republic of Ireland on the same day: see Ireland referendum, 1998. The referendum was held on May 22, 1998. There was a large majority of 'Yes'. A total of 1,738 ballots were spoilt. Turnout was high, at 81.1%, this was much higher than the turnout in the equivalent referendum in the Republic of Ireland.

The electorate were asked to indicate: Do you support the agreement reached at the multi-party talks on Northern Ireland and set out in Command Paper 3883?

Yes votes Yes votes (%) No votes No (%) Turnout (%)
676,966 71.1 274,979 28.9 81.1

Turnout

The turnout was noticeably high and even more remarkably the turnout was quite even throughout the province, compared to many elections where turnout is highest in strong nationalist areas and significantly lower in unionist areas. It is estimated that approximately 147,000 people who do not normally vote in elections turned out to vote in the referendum, most of them in traditionally staunch unionist areas.

Government response

The government passed the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

See also

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