Taoiseach concerned that abortion proposals 'go too far'

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Mr Donohoe is understood to have told the Cabinet that Ministers had thus far been able to examine the committee's report in a calm environment, which may not be the case during a referendum campaign.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has joined Cabinet colleagues in calling for Ireland's abortion laws to be liberalised in the upcoming referendum later this year, writes Juno McEnroe.

At least seven ministers are known to be in favour of the committee recommendations to allow abortion without restriction for 12 weeks.

However, Mr Coveney, who is seen as being on the conservative side of Fine Gael, will miss today's meeting as he is now on a tour of Israel and Palestine.

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The committee's recommendation dominated the first cabinet meeting of the year today.

"I want to hear the views of everybody across government, across parliament". The Dáil and Seanad will be discussing the issue next week. "And I particularly want to consult further with the women because at the end of the day it will be women who are most impacted on this issue".

The Dáil will debate the Committee's report for three days next week, which will be preceded by a special meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party next Monday.

The Taoiseach has said he wants a referendum in May, and the Dáil will need to move quickly when it returns next week if they want to achieve that.

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"It is I know very much a private and personal matter and there is a diversity of views on this question in the Cabinet, in the Oireachtas, in every political party and I think in nearly every family and household", Varadkar added.

The cabinet will make a decision before the end of the month on this issue and Mr Varadkar said it was the Irish government's intention to hold a referendum by the summer.

Minister Donohoe said he believes the proposal made by the committee should be put to the people.

In a clear sign of the divide within Fine Gael, Junior Minister Patrick O'Donovan told reporters: "Every household in the country is going to have different views on this".

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Minister for Health Simon Harris has said that he wishes to propose the legislation for the referendum and told told The Ireland Edition of The Times that he supported the recommendations of the committee.

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