Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin believes there should be a Dail vote on the abortion legislation – following his U-turn on his party adopting a policy.
Fianna Fail will have a free vote on abortion legislation, allowing party TDs and Senators to vote whichever way they please in line with their conscience.
Mr Martin himself will be voting for the legislation. And the party will not adopt a formal policy for or against the legislation, although its health spokesmen will table amendments.
Mr Martin went back on his previous stance of wanting the party to adopt a position and ruling out a free vote as the party was split down the middle on the legislation.
The prospect of there being no vote on the legislation was mooted in recent weeks if Fianna Fail was supporting it.
Ten TDs need to specifically demand a vote and Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Fein are already supporting it.
Such a scenario would help Fine Gael and Sinn Fein to keep TDs on board and not lose the party whip.
However, Mr Martin did say he does think there needs to be a vote on the legislation.
"I'd be worried if the sense got out there that politicians were trying to orchestrate a situation where there would be no vote. It would cause a lot of lot of resentment and anger," he said.
Mr Martin said it was up to those opposing the legislation to decide if there would be a vote.
The party leader was unable to bring enough of his TDs and Senators with him and was worried about losing some TDs and Senators if he forced the party to vote for the legislation.
The proposal was agreed unanimously at a meeting of the parliamentary party.
Mr Martin opened the meeting by proposing there would be a free vote. "Across the party there was a general disposition towards a vote of no confidence," he said.
The Fianna Fail leader said he believes the legislation is restrictive and he will be supporting it. "The existing position is actually more liberal than what is proposed in the bill," he added.
And he said he will stand over his support of the legislation with any members who want to debate it with him – particularly after the Fianna Fail ard fheis passed a motion calling for the party to vote against the legislation.
"The ard fheis has never 100pc tied the hands of parliamentarians," he said.
Mr Martin also said his party was going to set up a working group to figure out in what circumstances a vote of conscience would be allowed on issues in the future.