Abortion referendum 'could be held next spring'
Senior Government figures have predicted that a referendum on abortion will be held as early as next spring.
Ministers last night said they saw no reason to delay the staging of a public vote on the back of the recommendations by the Citizens' Assembly.
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said the emphasis was on "the repeal and the replacement" of the Eighth Amendment. "There is no reason why a referendum to achieve this could not be held in the spring of 2018," the Dublin South West TD added.
Independent Alliance Minister John Halligan said "the sooner" that the referendum was held, "the better".
Fine Gael TDs have emphasised their wish that the issue of the Eighth Amendment be addressed before the next general election campaign gets under way. The party's backbencher Kate O'Connell told the Irish Independent last night: "It wouldn't serve the people of Ireland well for this to be the single number one issue on the agenda in the general election."
Ms O'Connell is one of a number of Government politicians expected to be nominated to represent her party on the Oireachtas committee, which is being set up to examine the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly.
Last night, a number of senior Fine Gael figures privately expressed their surprise at the scale of the recommendations, particularly the prospect that they would lead to a radical overhaul of the country's abortion regime.
It is expected that the recommendations of the assembly will be discussed at today's Cabinet meeting.