Harris insists abortion referendum can be held next year

Martin believes timeframe is difficult considering the complexity of the question

Minister for Health Simon Harris has insisted there can be a referendum on the eighth amendment of the Constitution held next year.

Mr Harris was asked to respond to concerns that the timeframe outlined by the Government may be too challenging to meet.

The Oireachtas committee examining Article 40.3.3, which gives the unborn an equal right to life of the mother, has until December 20th to conclude its deliberations.

Its recommendations will then be sent to the Houses of the Oireachtas for consideration and a vote.


A referendum has been scheduled for May/June 2018.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week in Politics Mr Harris said he would like to see a repeal of the eighth amendment and is eager for a referendum to take place next year.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said he believed it was a difficult timeframe considering the complexity of the question to be put to the people.

His party passed a motion this weekend opposing any effort to diminish the constitutional rights of the unborn.

Mr Martin urged all sides to engage in a tolerant and respectful conversation about the future of the eighth amendment.

His party would have freedom of conscience on the matter, he said.

The Fianna Fáil leader added: “There is a divergence of view within the party, within the parliamentary party as there is across all political parties, or the vast majority of political parties and that’s reflective of society.

“We need tolerance we need respect for divergent views.