8th amendment referendum bill passes all stages in the Dáil

It will now go to be debated in the Seanad next week

8th amendment referendum bill passes all stages in the Dáil

The Dail chamber at Leinster House. Image: Laura Hutton/RollingNews

Updated: 21.00

The abortion referendum bill has passed all stages in the Dáil.

It will now go to the Seanad for the next stage of debate next week.

Pro-life TDs Mattie McGrath and Danny Healy-Rae called a number of votes in an effort to stall the legislation.

However it was passed by a large majority - with 110 deputies voting in favour and 32 against.

It means the Government is on course with its plan to hold a vote on repealing the 8th amendment in early May.

Health Minister Simon Harris earlier welcomed the passing of the bill through the second stage in the Dáil.

He thanked deputies who have contributed to the debate so far, saying they have done so in a respectful manner.

Labour Leader Brendan Howlin said it is an 'historic day'.

"Very shortly now it'll be handed over to the people for their decision.

"It'll be taken out of the hands of the 158 TDs and the 60 Senators and it'll be a matter for every citizen of Ireland to interpret what their view of the law should be and to make their decision accordingly.

"I hope that the discussions will be as good-tempered across the country as they have been in the Oireachtas by and large".

TDs sat until close to midnight on Tuesday in an effort to get the legislation passed quickly - with a May referendum dependent on the bill being signed into law before Easter.

The Government has prioritised the May date in order to ensure that students will have the opportunity to vote.

The 8th amendment provides for the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn in the Constitution.

The bill TDs are debating will outline the exact wording of the question that is to be put to the electorate.

Voters will be asked whether to retain or repeal the 8th amendment – with the Oireachtas empowered to legislate in the event of repeal.

During the debate on Tuesday, pro-choice TDs warned that retaining the 8th amendment would see the country continuing to criminalise women who take abortion pills.

Anti-abortion TDs meanwhile warned that removing the right to life of the unborn was one of a number of government policies that hurt children.

Additional reporting: Ton Swift and Jack Quann