February 2018 is the 'earliest time for a possible abortion referendum'

February 2018 is the 'earliest time for a possible abortion referendum'

February 2018 is the earliest there could be an abortion referendum, according to the Children's Minister.

The recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly will be discussed in detail by an Oireachtas Committee.

Their findings may then decide the terms of a referendum on the 8th amendment.

Minister Katherine Zappone says early next year is the very earliest it could happen.

"I think the earliest it can come - and I would love to see it come - if February 2018. I said that a long time ago when I was probably one of the first to sit down and try to calculate the months.

"The Committee doesn't have to spend as much time as they've been given, they could bring it to us sooner than that, but if they feel like they do need that time I do think in light of that timeframe yes we could bring a referendum to the people by February 2018," she said.

The Women's council says the Government should listen to the Citizen's Assembly.

It is after the Education Minister said his party wouldn't be bound by the Assembly's findings.

Richard Bruton told the Dáil that TDs would have to do their work as legislators themselves.

Director of the Women's Council, Orla O'Connor believes the Irish people want change.

"The Citizen's Assembly was established by the Government to give direction on how to move forward in relation to both referendum and policy on abortion.

"The Citizen's Assembly have clearly done that, they've given them direction."

"So in the National Women's Council we feel it's really important that the Government listen to the Citizen's Assembly, but also it's a lot wider than that because the Citizen's Assembly reflected public opinion - we believe there is absolutely a need for change," she said.

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