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Cabinet ends abortion law talks

Cabinet has finished discussions on contentious new abortion laws after an evening of extended crunch talks in Government Buildings.

A document detailing how the restrictive rules will be formed will be issued later.

Senior ministers emerged from Cabinet late into Tuesday evening - after they were forced to break their weekly meeting earlier because they were unable to get through all the items on the agenda.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was earlier forced to deny speculation that a rift between TDs had caused discussions to overrun. There has been much-publicised division between the coalition partners, and within Fine Gael itself, on whether suicide should be deemed grounds for an abortion.

He said: "We considered 28 items this morning. Before we got to another item, we didn't have time to get through it."

The Taoiseach added that he was still hopeful the new law limiting the ban on abortion would come into effect before the Dail summer recess in July - as planned.

He said it was about giving clarity to the law and saving the lives of women and their unborn babies.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan confirmed Cabinet did not have enough time to fully discuss the issue this morning, the meeting overran and had to be adjourned. He said ministers had been given another hour from around 5.20pm to complete their talks. The Fine Gael minister insisted discussions so far had been amicable.

Mr Noonan said: "It's just an interesting issue and because of the nature of the issue, most Cabinet ministers wanted to contribute and the discussion is ongoing. But it will be resolved and it's a very amicable discussion, but it's quite complex and intricate as well with constitutional issues and the decision of the European Court of Human Rights being part of the contributory information."

Mr Noonan said it was now just a matter of process and that once published, the draft laws would be considered by the Oireachtas Committee on Health.

PA Media