Pro-life Fianna Fáil TDs and senators meeting to discuss their approach to abortion referendum

It follows Micheál Martin's announcement that he will support repealing the 8th amendment

Pro-life Fianna Fáil TDs and senators meeting to discuss their approach to abortion referendum

Leinster House in Dublin | File photo: RollingNews.ie

A Fianna Fáil TD says there is no split in the party over abortion "other than people having a genuine difference of views".

A number of pro-life TDs and senators will meet this evening to discuss how to respond to Micheál Martin's surprise support for repealing the 8th amendment.

They are worried their views will not get as much coverage as the pro-choice side of the party.

Deputy Martin last week suggested there has been no backlash within his party after he finally outlined his stance on abortion.

Some TDs say their members are extremely unhappy with the move.

However, TD Thomas Byrne denies there's any rift in Fianna Fáil.

He argued: "I don't sense that there's any split in the party, other than people having a genuine difference of views on this particular issue.

"This is an issue that splits families, splits neighbourhoods, splits generations, and causes different views in political parties. But it doesn't mean that everything else is split, or there are splits on a range of issues - there are not."

He added that everyone has the right to vote whatever way they like, observing: "You can't argue with somebody's conscience, having informed themselves of all the facts... you just can't."

Meanwhile, the Cabinet will hold a special meeting on Monday to discuss the 8th amendment.

The Health Minister will seek permission to hold a referendum on repeal.

The Attorney General's advice on the wording of an abortion referendum will also be given to ministers.

Additional reporting by Stephen McNeice