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One a day Live

Latest: Summer date for abortion unrealistic, says Owen

Update 1.38pm: A former Fine Gael Justice Minister has said that Pope Francis' visit next August might not be the only reason for delaying the abortion referendum.

The Taoiseach has previously said he would prefer if the country voted on the 8th Amendment in May or June.

However, Nora Owen has said that the preparation alone required for the referendum makes this timeline unrealistic.

"I think that Pope or no Pope, you're probably looking at a longer date than May and June, and you can't push it into July or August," she said.

"Therefore you're probably talking about October.

"The other interesting little sideline [is] that if you put the referendum off until then, Fianna Fáil certainly won't want to cause an election and maybe take over Government while this is still hovering around.

"They'd like it done and dusted."

Earlier: Repeal supporters concerned that referendum may take place after Pope's visit

There are concerns the abortion referendum will be delayed until after the Pope's visit in August.

The Sunday Independent is reporting a senior Government source confirmed it might have to be put back until October, which would also coincide with the end of the confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil.

Leo Varadkar has said his preference for the referendum would be May or June.

However, it is believed that allowing TDs and Senators to have a free vote could delay the referendum bill moving through the Dáil and Seanad.

Supporters of repealing the 8th Amendment fear that the Pope's visit as part of the World Meeting of Families would boost the pro-life campaign.

An October vote would also coincide with the end of the government's Confidence and Supply deal with Fianna Fáil.