Special Cabinet meeting needed to approve abortion referendum
A Special Cabinet meeting is likely to be scheduled midweek before a bill to allow for the abortion referendum is formally introduced in the Dáil.
It was expected that Health Minister Simon Harris would seek approval for the final wording of the referendum from his colleagues tomorrow - but this has been delayed because of the snow storm.
The minister is awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court case relating to the rights of an unborn child in the Constitution before proceeding with the bill.
The Government was confident that the case would be decided last week but court sittings were cancelled due to the atrocious weather.
"Presumably, once the courts reopen, it will proceed and we would hope for a ruling early this week," said a source.
Mr Harris has previously indicated that he will move the bill in the Dáil on March 8, International Women's Day.
Senior Government sources say this can still happen if the court returns a verdict in time.
"At this stage, the target date for voting of late May still stands. If the case is delayed further, then we have a problem," the source said.
The Irish Independent also understands that Mr Harris is to publish a policy paper this week, outlining progress on proposals for what type of abortion regime would be introduced if the referendum was passed.
The head of the bill, which will potentially allow for terminations up to 12 weeks, will not be published until the end of the month or early April.
But the policy paper will indicate that its contents will be closely aligned to the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.
According to sources, there will be nuances and tweaks to some of what the committee recommended but the spirit of its report will be honoured.
A separate paper is likely to be produced later in the year, dealing with other aspects of the committee's work, such as sex education and counselling.