THE GOVERNMENT says its plans to legislate and regulate for abortion are unchanged, despite the Catholic Church claiming it gave ministers "food for thought" on the contentious issue.
A high-level Catholic delegation met a number of coalition ministers, led by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as part of the administration's engagement with all faiths.
The meetings take place regularly between the government of the day and the churches, although last night's was the first since Fine Gael and Labour took office.
The Catholic Church was led by Cardinal Sean Brady, with a number of other bishops also attending.
The meeting came ahead of an anti-abortion rally in Dublin today. Cardinal Brady said he and the other bishops outlined their opposition to abortion – but a government spokesman insisted afterwards the Coalition was pressing on with its plans anyway.
"I'm sure they will reflect on what we have said," Cardinal Brady said.
"They stated their position very clearly that they had to act to remedy a situation that has been ongoing for 20 years. We kept insisting on our point of view and we hope we gave them food for thought. We ranged over a lot of topics. We stated our position frankly and decisively and there was a lot of common ground."
Bishop Colm O'Reilly of Ardagh and Clonmacnois described the church's position as "unchanged and unchangeable really because of the fundamental problem we have with taking human life in any circumstances".
"The Government is under no illusions about that," he added.
"They said they had to address the issue but we enunciated very clearly the teaching of the church on abortion."
Bishop John Buckley of Cork and Ross asked whether "there was any other situation where it was suggested that the ending of a life was a solution to a problem", but said Dr Reilly was "non-committal" in his response.
Cardinal'S successor UNVEILED