Latest: I support repeal of 8th Amendment, says Justice Minister

Update 12.43pm: Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said today that he supports repealing the 8th Amendment.

Cabinet ministers were briefed this morning on what needs to happen in order to hold an abortion referendum in May or June.

Seven ministers have publicly given their support to the recommendations that abortion be allowed without restriction for 12 weeks into the pregnancy.

Minister Flanagan gave his view earlier.

"I support repeal, I don't believe this is an issue that should be in our constitution," he said.

"I want to acknowledge that this has been a very challenging issue, a very sensitive issue, over the past 35 years.

"I believe it's important now in the context of the commitment given in the Programme for Partnership Government that we move on to the next stage."

Earlier: Health Minister expects abortion referendum legislation by February

Health Minister Simon Harris said today that expects that legislation for a referendum on the 8th amendment should be before the Oireachtas by February.

The Cabinet is meeting today to discuss the Oireachtas Committee report which was published just before Christmas.

Dáil and Seanad debates will then follow as well as a Fine Gael Parliamentary party meeting on the matter.

Minister Harris, who supports the Committee's recommendations, said that there is very little time to organise a pre-summer referendum.

"Obviously I don't wish to pre-empt any decision that will be taken by Government," he said.

"The Government won't be making formal decisions in this regard [today], it will be an opportunity for the Government to consider the report, and also to consider the timeline that it would need to adhere to if it wished to facilitate a referendum by May or June.

"Those timelines are doable, but are quite tight, and I would envisage if the Government wished to have a referendum in May or June, that we would need to be back here bringing a referendum Bill to Cabinet certainly by February."

- Digital desk


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