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Result due today on Ireland's same-sex marriage vote

People in Ireland have been voting on whether to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Credit: Brian Lawless / PA Wire/PA Images

Counting of votes in Ireland's landmark referendum on gay marriage will begin at 9am today.

With more than 3.2 million people eligible to vote, including tens of thousands who registered at the last minute and returned home from overseas, the turnout was reported to be higher than average.

If the reform to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples is passed, the Republic will be the first in the world to bring it in by popular vote. It is only 22 years since Ireland decriminalised homosexuality.

Early indications of how the vote is going are expected to filter into the count headquarters in Dublin Castle around mid-morning, with the result known by the afternoon.

Voters are now being asked one simple, specific question on whether to amend Article 41 of the 1937 Constitution by adding a new clause to a section titled The Family.

It asks voters to support or reject a change to the 78-year-old document which reads: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

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Mother found pushing dead son on a park swing

A woman was found pushing her dead three-year-old son on a park swing. Credit: Marius Becker / DPA/PA Images

Police in the US said they found a mother pushing her dead three-year-old boy on a park swing in Maryland early on Friday, Reuters reports.

Officers responded to a call around 7am to check on a woman who witnesses said had been pushing a child for hours on a swing at Wills Memorial Park in La Plata, according to Charles County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Diane Richardson.

When the officers arrived they found the 24-year-old woman still pushing the child in the swing, and they realised immediately that the boy was dead, Richardson said.

The child had no signs of obvious trauma, she said, and had been dead for at least several hours. An autopsy will be performed to determine the boy's cause of death.

The mother, who was not identified, was transported to a nearby hospital for medical tests, police said.

'40 killed' in Mexico drug cartel gunfight

At least 40 people have been killed in a huge gun fight between police and suspected drug cartel members in western Mexico.

File photo: A federal cop stands guard after a raid on the villa of a drug cartel boss Credit: Reuters

Officials say that "almost all" of the dead were suspected criminals.

The bloody firefight took place in an area between Michoacan and Jalisco states that is known as a stronghold of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel, which has mounted several large-scale attacks on federal and state forces in recent weeks.

Michoacan governor Salvador Jara told local media "the likeliest thing is" the Jalisco cartel was involved in the shootout.

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Cardinal 'ashamed' of mishandled sex abuse claims

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor admitted he mishandled sex abuse claims against a priest. Credit: Anthony Devlin / PA Archive/PA Images

Former Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has admitted he is deeply ashamed of the way he handled sex abuse allegations concerning a priest in the Catholic Church in the 1980s.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor disclosed how, as the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, he allowed priest Michael Hill to become the chaplain of Gatwick Airport despite Hill confessing to him that he had abused young boys.

Speaking during a Q&A session at the Hay Festival in south Wales, the 82-year-old cleric said he sent Hill for therapy before moving him to a new parish after being given assurances he would have no contact with children.

However, while at his new airport post, Hill would go on to sexually assault a young man with learning difficulties who had missed a flight.

I'd like to say something I wouldn't have said 20 or 30 years ago - think first of the victims and how important it is to listen to them and their story, the anger and the pain.

I knew child abuse was wrong and removed him from the parish.Now, under the new regulations, he would go to the social services and the police automatically.

But I don't think we were aware of the addictive nature of paedophilia and the terrible damage that's done to the victims. Now I know much more about that.

– Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor

Hill was jailed in 1997 for a string of attacks and then again for another five years in 2002 after disclosing fresh abuse during a sex offender treatment programme

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