Latest: Abortion referendum 'likely be held in June', says Minister

Update 3.17pm: Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said today that the abortion referendum will "most likely be held in June".

The Cabinet will discuss the first draft of a Bill to provide for a referendum on the 8th Amendment tomorrow.

Minister Doherty sparked criticism over the weekend after she said the referendum would not pass - as things currently stand.

Today she moved to clarify her position.

"The campaign is not going to be, probably, starting in earnest until a number of weeks before the referendum, [the date of which] hasn't even been set yet, it most likely will be in June, " she said.

"We're only going to consider a draft legislation tomorrow.

"So in real terms, maybe I was being pre-emptive yesterday.

"The campaign hasn't started proper. All I was saying is that there is a body of work that needs to be done by all of those people who advocate for change."

Earlier: 'Clearly we will clearly explain' reason for 12-week limit in abortion referendum

The cabinet will discuss the first draft of a Bill to provide for a referendum on the 8th amendment tomorrow.

Regina Doherty sparked criticism over the weekend after she said the referendum would not pass - as things currently stand.

Today she moved to clarify her position:

"The campaign is not going to be, probably, starting in earnest until a number of weeks before the referendum, [the date of which] hasn't even been set yet, it most likely will be in June, " she said.

"We're only going to consider a draft legislation tomorrow,

"So in real terms, maybe I was being pre-emptive yesterday.

"The campaign hasn't started proper. All I was saying is that there is a body of work that needs to be done by all of those people who advocate for change."

Earlier: 'Clearly we will clearly explain' reason for 12-week limit in abortion referendum

Update - 1.30pm: The Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has denied that Government Ministers are "muddying the water" on the abortion debate.

Ms Doherty has moved to clarify comments she made yesterday that a referendum on the Eighth Amendment would not pass, as things currently stand.

Sources have described the remarks as unhelpful and claim they represent a lack of confidence within Fine Gael on the issue.

However, speaking this afternoon Minister Doherty moved to clarify her position.

She said: "We all have different views on it and I think people will campaign on their own personal beliefs and views, but I know we, as a Government, are putting forward a referendum.

"And what I said yesterday is that if we do not clearly explain to the Irish people where the 12 weeks came from, then I fear it won't pass.

"Clearly we will clearly explain."

The Cabinet is due to discuss the first draft of a Bill to provide for a referendum on abortion tomorrow and a final wording is due to be agreed by March 6.

10.30am: Minister's doubts on chances of repealing 8th 'a fair comment', says head of Oireachtas Committee

Regina Doherty was right about the referendum, according to the head of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

Senator Catherine Noone says she agrees with the Social Protection Minister that the public may not vote for abortion.

Speaking over the weekend, Ms Doherty said the Government needs to give people more evidence before they go to the polls.

Critics claim her comments show a lack of confidence in Fine Gael, but Senator Noone says she is being realistic.

She said: "Every day, those of us who understand and believe that the position should be changed legally in this country have a job of work to be done to communicate that.

"Any referendum even the Children's Rights referendum, where it was a really positive thing, it wasn't won by any major majority, so it's a fair comment that the Minister made."


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