Irish abortion plan 'may be step too far'

Pashcal Donohoe the finance minister says that he backs the recommendations of the Oireachtas committee on abortion

Pashcal Donohoe the finance minister says that he backs the recommendations of the Oireachtas committee on abortionLEAH FARRELL

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has declined to offer his view on the report of the Oireachtas abortion committee, which was published three weeks ago today.

The minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, said the issue was "complex and emotive" and that she would continue to consult members of her constituency, particularly women.

Numerous Fine Gael Ministers referenced the difficulties in the party during the debate over the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, which saw three TDs and one senator leave the party in the last Dáil.

The cabinet will make a decision before the end of the month on this issue and Mr Varadkar said it was the Irish government's intention to hold a referendum by the summer.

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Mr Varadkar said there were diverse views at cabinet during a discussion about the likely referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Ministers were told that a referendum could be held in late May or early June.

"There is a concern understandably among many politicians that perhaps for the majority of the public that proposal might go one step too far".

A referendum on the future of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution is due to be held in May, with Mr Varadkar declining to give his opinion on the debate.

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It called for gestational limits for abortion to be guided by the best available medical evidence and be provided for in legislation.

A number of ministers are known to be in favour of supporting the recommendations - including Simon Harris, Paschal Donohoe, Regina Doherty, Eoghan Murphy, Katherine Zappone, Josepha Madigan and Charlie Flanagan.

Leo Varadkar says there's strong agreement at cabinet that a vote on repealing the 8th amendment take place this year.

Minister Donohoe said he believes the proposal made by the committee should be put to the people.

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However, the Pro-Life Campaign criticised the moves towards a referendum. So my party, the Fine Gael party, will discuss this at our special parliamentary party meeting next week. "The Oireachtas Committee recommendations are exclusively focused on taking away all meaningful protections from unborn babies", she said.

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