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Update: Number of Fine Gael TDs express concern about proposed new abortion laws

Update 10.03pm: A number of Fine Gael TDs have expressed their concern about proposed new abortion laws, including Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

He told their parliamentary party he wants to protect the rights of the unborn child while acknowledging there are aspects that need to be addressed.

During a five hour meeting in Leinster House, the Taoiseach indicated the Oireachtas committee recommendations were 'a strong option'.

Parliamentary party chair Martin Heydon outlined his view, saying: "I definitely believe a referendum should happen.

"How I would vote for that as a private citizen, I don't know until I know what the question is that is being put to the people.

"I definitely feel the Irish public are ready to have a say on this matter again and I as a politician will be facilitating the holding of that referendum."

Update 8.08pm: Martin Heydon: Good reason needed if making changes to recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on abortion

The Chairman of Fine Gael's Parliamentary Party says the government would need a very good reason to move away from the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on abortion.

Martin Heydon was interpreting the Taoiseach's remarks that allowing abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks was a strong option.

Fine Gael TDs, Senators and MEPs held a meeting this afternoon to debate the issue of abortion.

Chairman Martin Heydon suggested they will back the committee recommendations

"If you were to go away from the recommendations in that report you would need a very good reason for doing so.

"And as a minority government, you would have to be sure that if you were going to make changes that they are changes that would get the support of the majority of the Dáil."

Earlier: Dail abortion debate delayed as FG party continue discussions

Fine Gael TDs and Senators are debating the Oireachtas committee’s report on abortion at a special parliamentary party meeting in Leinster House.

The Fine Gael Parliamentary Party has been meeting since 2pm and were discussing the report from the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment.

Senator Catherine Noone, who chaired that committee, explained to her party colleagues how they arrived at their recommendation of allowing abortion for the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy.

Other TDs and Senators have been giving their opinions on the issue - with one saying it has been a respectful debate so far with lots of questions being asked about what the best way forward is.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlined the different options for the way forward and stressed the need to listen to the Oireachtas debate this week.

Those statements that were due to start in the Dáil tomorrow have been delayed.

To give more speaking time to TDs the debates have been scheduled for longer on Wednesday and Thursday instead.

More to follow ... 

- Digital desk