Oireachtas "can't make the change" to fatal foetal abnormality legislation - Simon Harris

Some Independent TDs in cabinet say they want a 'free vote' on a Bill being put forward by TD Mick Wallace

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The Health Minister has reiterated his view that a referendum is needed before legislation on terminations in the cases fatal foetal abnormalities can be passed by the Dáil.

This week, the Dáil debated a Bill put forward by Independent TD Mick Wallace.

Minister Simon Harris said he could not accept the proposed legislation as the Attorney General has ruled that it was unconstitutional.

However, some Independent TDs in cabinet say they want a 'free vote' on the issue when it comes before the Dáil again this week.

The vote comes ahead of a Citizens' Assembly that is due to discuss the issue of the 8th Amendment in the autumn - with Simon Harris confirming it is now hoped the assembly will commence before the previously planned start date of November.

Minister Harris says that while he wants to see the issue of terminations in the cases fatal foetal abnormalities dealt with, the 8th Amendment prevents him from doing so.

Speaking on the Sunday Show, he explained: "In relation to this issue, the Oireachtas can't make the change that I would like to see in relation to women experiencing fatal foetal abnormalities.

"Whoever is in my seat, it's always the same, whether they'd like to do it or wouldn't like to do it: they find themselves not able to do it because of the 8th Amendment," he added.

However, concerns are being raised that the assembly will postpone dealing with the issue.

Senator Ivana Bacik is one of those campaigning to repeal the 8th Amendment.

"My fear, and the fear of many that have been fighting for repeal of the 8th for a long time, is that this matter will simply be kicked down the road," she suggested.