Taoiseach expects new abortion laws by January, agrees Dáil should be extended to speed up legislation

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says it will be January 1, 2019, before new abortion laws take effect.

He has also warned that trying to change current legislation in the mean time may only delay the overall bill from passing.

The Cabinet gave Health Minister Simon Harris approval to draft the new laws at this morning's meeting.

The Taoiseach says, despite the massive endorsement from the people at the weekend, it will take a while to change the law:

He said: "We will need technical guidelines and it will be necessary to regulate and license the new medicines.

"It is still our anticipation that it will be the end of the year, 1st of January 2019, before we have the given effect of the will of the people, even with the best intentions."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and other politicians have called for the Dáil to sit during the summer recess in order to speed up the passage of the legislation.

Today, Deputy Martin called for a "prompt" and "proactive" response to the referendum results, saying: "Irish people have spoken emphatically. In a clear and decisive manner, the people, through the referendum, have voted for change - for new laws, which will end the cruel inflexibility of the Eighth Amendment.

"The people have given the Oireachtas the mandate and indeed the obligation to legislate for a new approach - an approach that trusts women and their doctors."

Addressing calls for an extended Dáil sitting, the Taoiseach noted: "Yes, we are in agreement with your suggestion that if necessary the Dáil be extended into the [summer] recess to allow that matter - that matter alone - to be legislated for."

Simon Harris yesterday confirmed legislation giving effect to the referendum on abortion will be brought before the Dáil ahead of the summer recess.

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