Belfast Telegraph

Irish abortion referendum due to be held next summer, Leo Varadkar announces

A referendum on abortion rights in Ireland will likely be held next summer, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

The vote on the Eighth Amendment to the Republic's Constitution - which states that the right to life of the mother and the unborn child are equal - is due in May or June.

The amendment has long been the source of contention in Ireland, with pro-choice supporters demanding its abolition and pro-life advocates insisting it should be retained.

The Taoiseach has outlined the timetable for a number of votes on the state's constitutional framework.

Citizens will have the opportunity to have their say in June 2019 on whether voting rights in future presidential elections should be extended to Irish people living outside the state, including in Northern Ireland.

That month will also see votes on divorce laws and a proposal to reduce the voting age to 16.

Referenda on the offence of blasphemy and the state's defined view on the role of stay at home mothers will come in October next year.

That month will also see a plebiscite on the direct election of city mayors.

Each referendum will be subject to passage of Bills by the Irish parliament and formal confirmation of the polling date.

The Taoiseach said: "Any amendment to our Constitution requires careful consideration by the people. They should be given ample time to consider the issues and to take part in well-informed public debate. Setting a timetable for the referendums to be held over the next two years will allow all involved in campaigning on the issues to plan ahead and to facilitate that public debate."

A report on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution by an assembly of Irish citizens is currently being considered by a parliamentary committee. It will issue its own report by the end of the year. The wording of the referendum question will then be set.

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