EXCLUSIVE: Varadkar says new abortion legislation could be in place by the end of the year

The Taoiseach is hopeful of a Yes vote next Friday

EXCLUSIVE: Varadkar says new abortion legislation could be in place by the end of the year

File photo of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking to the media in Government Buildings | Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he thinks new abortion legislation could be in place by the end of the year, if the referendum on May 25th is passed.

Mr Varadkar said he hopes all TDs and Senators will support the Government proposals if the people decide to remove the Eighth Amendment.

There is just one week left until polling day, and the Taoiseach believes the referendum will be passed.

He said if it is, he wants to see new laws in place as soon as possible.

Speaking to Newstalk's political correspondent Sean Defoe, Mr Varadkar said: "I'd anticipate that we'd be able to have that legislation through the Dáil and the Seanad before the end of the year.

"But bear in mind we don't have a majority, of course, as a Government in the Dáil and the Seanad.

"And secondly, I don't think it's something that the Dáil or Seanad would want to rush.

"At the same time, I think that politicians will heed the views of the people - and if the referendum does pass next Friday, I think politicians will want to see that legislation come through and will cooperate.

"I know some TDs that are voting no: they have said to me that even though they are voting no, if people vote yes they will respect that and they will support the legislation".

"I do think we've to do a little bit of explaining around the 12 weeks - certainly it is not abortion on demand, it's not abortion without any restrictions.

"It won't be possible to go into the local pharmacy and buy abortion pills, that's not how it's going to work".

"A decision for the Irish people"

"Ultimately this is a proposal that's being put to the people - it's not about me, it's not about the Government - it's something that I'm campaigning for, something that I really want to see pass.

"It's something that I think will turn Ireland into a more caring, more compassionate country.

"But ultimately it's not about the Government or me, this is a decision for the Irish people - and I know they'll make the right one.”

Asked if it would be a blow to Government if it does not pass, Mr Varadkar said: "It would, but that goes for so many things in politics.

"In politics, the best yardstick is 'do the right thing' and I think this is the right thing.

"Maybe if there's a yes vote there'll be a boost for the Government, maybe if there's a no vote it'll be seen as a defeat for the Government.

"I don't think that really matters".

Final push

His comments come as both sides are ramping up their efforts to try and swing the vote their way.

Renua Ireland called for a No vote on Friday morning.

They said more supports should be given to single mothers and pregnant women as an alternative to abortion.

Together for Yes, meanwhile, held an event urging people to plan their way to the polls.

They are launching an online tool early next week that will let people set reminders to travel.

Reduced lead for 'Yes'

The latest poll shows a continued but reduced lead for the 'Yes' side ahead of the referendum.

This Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll was carried out among 1,200 people on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Asked how they will vote in the referendum, 44% of people said they will vote Yes - a drop of three points since April.

32% said they will vote 'No' - an increase of 4%.

While 17% of people are still undecided, and 7% said they will not vote or refused to say.