The Health Minister says yesterday's protest outside the National Maternity Hospital was "sickening".
Around 100 anti-abortion demonstrators gathered on Holles Street in Dublin yesterday.
Obstetrician Mary Higgins said the protest was taking place "beneath the windows of a postnatal ward, in front [of] people leaving after a miscarriage".
The protest took place on January 1st - the day which marked one year since termination services were made available in this country.
Minister Simon Harris today said meetings will shortly take place to progress legislation introducing exclusion zones outside maternity hospitals.
“How dare you”. Minister @SimonHarrisTD says yesterday’s protest outside Holles St was “anti-democratic, sickening and wrong” and did a disservice to the many people who voted No.
— Shane Beatty (@ShaneBeattyNews) January 2, 2020
Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, the Health Minister said he was appalled by the protest.
Minister Harris said: "If you want to protest against Government policy, off you go - turn up at the Dáil, turn up at the Department.
"How dare you turn up at a national maternity hospital and try to intimidate women."
He added: "We've heard from women who miscarried, who were asked on the street 'are you going to murder your child?' It was anti-democratic, it was sickening, and it was wrong.
"It did a huge disservice to the many, many people in this country who voted No - who have a completely different view to me, as they're entitled to do."
He said he believes the 'time is right' to move ahead with introducing exclusion zones - but noted it was not a "straightforward" process.
Minister Harris explained: "I intend now when the Dáil resumes to meet with the opposition and finalise the approach we're going to take in that regard."
He suggested there are a number of ways to move forward with such zones - although pointed out that an effort in Britain to give powers to local authorities met with a legal challenge.
A number of groups here in Ireland have called for exclusion zones around hospitals and doctors' clinics that offer abortion services.
The Government had originally wanted to include the “safe access zones” within the wider abortion legislation that come into force on New Year’s Day 2019.
However, after a number of issues were identified, a decision was taken to deal with it separately in order to ensure there was no delay to the legislation allowing terminations take place.
David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, claimed the Health Minister is trying to distract attention from other issues facing the health service.
He told The Hard Shoulder: "I think he really needs to look at why other countries have not brought in exclusion zones.
"No country has gone down the route of a full-scale national law imposing these kind of exclusion zones - England considered it, New Zealand considered it, and both decided it would be disproportionate."