An Irish election official confirmed a landslide victory for abortion rights advocates as Ireland repealed its constitutional ban.
Most observers thought the vote was going to be much closer, and the referendum followed months of intense campaigning.
He said the referendum result marked "the day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light".
Anne Milton, an education minister, on Sunday urged the prime minister to allow a free vote in Britain's parliament and said she thought there would be "a significant majority" in favour of liberalising the abortion laws.
The Irish voters who overturned a constitutional ban on abortion by a two-to-one margin yesterday counted many among them who traveled from across the world, including Boston, to cast votes in their home country. Anti-abortion campaigners described the decision as a "tragedy of historic proportions".
But John McGuirk, spokesman for the Save the 8th group, said the vote must be respected.
Ms O'Connor said the people of Ireland had spoken, and progress needs to happen on the legislation as soon as possible.
The amendment was approved in 1983 and pro-repeal campaigners say that since then nearly 170,000 pregnant women travelled overseas to have terminations.
Abortion Law Reform Association president Terry Bellamak said the overwhelming decision by the Irish to change their laws, gave momentum for change in this country as well.More news: Motorists warned on cruise failures
The Irish Times and RTE television exit polls suggest the Irish people have voted by almost 70 percent to repeal the 1983 constitutional amendment, which requires authorities to treat a fetus and its mother as equals under the law.
"You may feel that the country has taken the wrong turn, is no longer a country you recognize", he told those who voted to maintain the abortion ban.
An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll late Friday suggested a "stunning victory" of 68 percent to 32 percent. In practical terms, the amendment outlawed all abortions until 2014, when terminations in rare cases when a woman's life was at risk started being allowed. As a result, thousands of Irish women make the trip overseas, often to England, to have an abortion.
An exit poll from Irish broadcaster RTE poll indicated that about 72 per cent of women voted "yes" along with about 66 per cent of men.
"Pushing the country forward in any way we could was a worthwhile cause", said Stephen Purcell, an Ireland native who now lives in Boston.
Donohue stressed that the fight for abortion rights isn't over, as it's now up to Parliament to determine the legislation governing abortion in Ireland.
The law on abortion is enshrined in the country's constitution, which can be changed only by referendum.
"A day when the people said, "This is our time, this is our Ireland".
He said the government will now move quickly to legalize abortion.