The women behind the 'Two Women Travel' account have said Minister Harris' condolences mean nothing to them
The Health Minister has said it is "important" that people share their stories of abortion.
Over the weekend, two women live-tweeted their trip to England, documenting the experience of travelling abroad for an abortion.
The 'Two Women Travel' handle and hashtag made headlines around the world.
Simon Harris tweeted to thank the two women for telling their story.
Thanks to @TwoWomenTravel for telling story of reality which faces many. Citizens Assembly - a forum to discuss 8th & make recommendations— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) August 21, 2016
The women behind the account say the condolences offered by the Health Minister mean nothing to them and that the 8th Amendment needs to be repealed now.
In a statement this afternoon they said his comments are patronising and that the Government is just using a Citizens' Assembly as a stalling tactic.
Speaking to Newstalk Lunchtime this afternoon, Minister Harris said the fact that he tweeted about the two women's journey has received "much commentary".
"As Minister for Health, it's important that people tell their experiences, tell their stories," he said. "Whatever your view or my view or anyone else's view is on the matter, this is a reality facing Irish women."
He argued that only the people of Ireland can choose to repeal the 8th Amendment.
"I think the criticism of the Taoiseach or the government [...] is unfair," he suggested. "Enda Kenny addressed generations of neglect in relation to the X Case. Other governments, of all sorts of hues, had fudged and avoided the issue.
"If people wish to see change in relation to the 8th Amendment, it's a constitutional matter. It would require the will of the people. To arrive at that point, should people wish... it's important we have an informed debate."
He also pointed out that the Citizens' Assembly that will consider the issue will get underway shortly.
"If people wish to have a referendum on this issue, it's important that all the issues are teased through and well thought out," Minister Harris added.