Updated: 10/01/18 : 06:01:12
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Eight Amendment Committee report for Cabinet discussion today

The Cabinet meets today for the first time since the publication of the report from Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution that recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn.

The Committee's recommendations are likely to be discussed by the Taoiseach and his ministers ahead of a special meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party next Monday afternoon.

It's understood that a majority of Ministers are in favour of the committee's call for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment and to allow abortion without restrictions during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

Health Minister Simon Harris will today bring a memo to Government on this divisive issue.

It will set out a timeline for a possible referendum in late May or early June.

This would require the outline of a Referendum Bill to be brought to Cabinet within weeks.

It would contain the question that would be put to the people in a referendum.

The Bill would have to be passed in the Oireachtas by late March.

The general form of legislation that could replace the eighth amendment would be published by Government soon after this.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said he accepts the recommendation made by the committee that abortion should be allowed here up to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

However, Minister of State at the Department of Finance Patrick O'Donovan said he had a "different view".

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

There is speculation that a referendum on the Eighth Amendment could possibly take place in late May.

The Taoiseach confirmed before Christmas that all Fine Gael Oireachtas members will have a free vote on any referendum proposal when it goes before the Dáil and Seanad.