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Video: Dublin government warns of need for 'realism' over abortion legislation timeline

Health minister Simon Harris will consult the cabinet, opposition and stakeholders on the legislation this week. Picture by RTE

THE DUBLIN government has said it will move quickly on legislation following the referendum on abortion but warned it will take time to "get this right for women and doctors in Ireland."

Health Minister Simon Harris said he hopes to publish a bill in the coming weeks but clinical guidelines need to be drawn up by practitioners and medication needs to be regulated so there needs to be "realism" over the timeline for introducing legislation.

Mr Harris is due to bring a memo outlining plans to fellow ministers, with laws expected to be passed by the end of the year.

The health minister has confirmed that the legislation giving effect to Friday's referendum will be introduced in the Dáil before it breaks for its summer holidays.

The Republic voted resoundingly to reform its strict abortion laws in Friday's referendum by a two-to-one margin.

The question on the ballot asked citizens to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the state's constitution, which prohibits terminations unless a mother's life is in danger.

Mr Harris will seek cabinet backing today to draft legislation that would allow abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, subject to medical advice and a cooling-off period, and up to 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances.

Employment Minister Regina Doherty said: "We will then start drafting the legislation and we would hope to have that within the next couple of weeks and then we just need to get the legislation into the house (Dáil)."

Asked whether abortion could be legal by October, Ms Docherty, who was at an event to discuss the state pension, said: "I think that's very ambitious given there are five stages of the legislation to go through.

"Even though we got a resounding mandate on Saturday, there are still nine women travelling every single day until we get that legislation passed and that has to be our focus."

Asked whether she will be putting pressure on British prime minister Theresa May to introduce legislation in Northern Ireland, Ms Doherty said: "I think she has enough pressure and I think the resounding mandate that was given by the Republic of Ireland managed to set the tone with regard to what should happen in Northern Ireland but obviously they are responsible for their own."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said he is in favour of holding a special Dáil sitting over the summer to get legislation passed to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Mr Martin said he would like to see the legislation published before the summer recess at the least, and that a second debate will also have taken place by then.

Mr Martin, has said his No-supporting Fianna Fáil parliamentarians will not block the change.

Those who campaigned against the measure have said they respect the democratic decision.

The law will be subject to debate inside and outside the Dáil and is likely to see renewed emphasis on crisis pregnancy prevention and care.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the referendum results represented "the culmination of a quiet revolution" taking place in the Republic for the past 10 to 20 years.

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