Tyrone GAA manger Mickey Harte backs 'no vote' ahead of abortion referendum in Republic

campaigns: Left, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has called for a ‘No’ vote in the Republic’s abortion referendum. Above, anti-abortion and pro choice protests in Dublin
Seanín Graham

TYRONE GAA manager Mickey Harte is appearing in a new video launched by a pro-life group ahead of the Republic's referendum on abortion.

Mr Harte, who has been a high-profile campaigner against the relaxing of current strict laws on abortion, features in the 'LoveBoth' project which is calling for a "No vote".

A referendum date is expected to be announced this week, with May 25 being touted as the most likely polling day.

Citizens will be asked whether they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Republic's constitution - a provision that makes abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances - and replace it with wording that hands responsibility for setting abortion laws to politicians.

Mr Harte talks about the importance of supporting the "most vulnerable members" of Irish society in the video.

If the public vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, the government intends to table legislation that would allow women to have an abortion within 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Health minister Simon Harris outlined details to cabinet colleagues yesterday.

"I have set out a very detailed and ambitious and demanding timetable that we would facilitate a referendum by the end of May and I am pleased to say that is firmly on track," he said.

"I expect we will be in a position to set the polling day this week so that the people of Ireland can know exactly what day in May this referendum will take place and I think that is important in terms of providing people with certainty about making sure that they can be in the country to vote."

Ahead of the meeting, tanaiste Simon Coveney proposed that if new laws come into being, any subsequent change to that legislation would need a two thirds majority in the Dáil.

Critics have claimed such a "super majority" requirement would be unconstitutional.

Access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy would be accompanied by rigid medical protocols, including a pause period between requesting an abortion pill and it being prescribed.

The proposed laws will also outlaw late-term abortions, other than in medical emergency situations.

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