The Fianna Fáil leader said that he is giving a free vote on the forthcoming abortion legislation because he did not want to lose people.
The opposition party has decided to allow TDs and Senators vote with their conscience after it became apparent that an imposed whip on a vote either way would see walkouts from the party.
In the Irish Catholic newspaper Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau compared Fine Gael's use of the party whip in introducing abortion laws to the defence used by Nazi soldiers.
He likened the claim by the Taoiseach and others that they are just doing their duty to the defence at the Nuremberg trials.
Tonight Micheál Martin said that he had no choice but to go with a free vote.
"I didn't want to lose members of the parliamentary party and some of them are very close friends of mine who have deeply held views on this issue," he said.
"I respect that and I respect that the views are nothing to do with politics and we said it from the outset that we wouldn't play politics with this either between parties or within the party
"I actually respect the deeply held views that people have on this and so I was reluctant to force my will on people to go down a route against their own conscience on this."