Referendum on 8th Amendment to be held by early June, Cabinet says

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In order to vote in the referendum, Irish citizens must register at least 15 days before polling day.

An exact date for the referendum will be decided after it is debated in the Irish Parliament.

Last night's announcement formally starts the referendum campaign, with both sides expected to now ramp up their arguments ahead of an historic vote.

The referendum will give voters under the age of 50 their first opportunity to decide on the issue.

The Taoiseach has appealed to all members of the Dáil to vote, in the house, in favour of staging a referendum on the 8th Amendment.

The Eighth Amendment, which was approved by a 1983 referendum, "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn" - meaning the lives of the woman and her unborn child are seen as equal.

Will it be a binding vote?

Based on that, voters will be asked whether they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment and replace it with a new form of words to allow the Dail to legislate on abortion in the future.

"I think even people who are in favour of abortion in certain circumstances are pro-life, I still believe in life, but I understand that there circumstances under which pregnancies can't continue".

Meanwhile, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said that he will campaign for change. A termination is legal only in rare cares when a woman's life is in danger.

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However, in the summary of the advice given by Mr Woulfe to cabinet on Monday and published this evening, it has been made clear the attorney general said a failure to include a clause would leave any repeal outcome to the referendum open to question and potential legal challenges.

During Monday's press conference, Varadkar confirmed that he would campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Many Irish women have to travel to other countries for abortion or source abortion pills from overseas online.

"I can not stand over a situation where the abortion pill is illegally accessed in this country and women, perhaps in the privacy of their own bedroom, in a lonely isolated place, [are] taking a pill without any medical supervision".

"We have abortion in Ireland, but it is unsafe, unregulated and unlawful, and in my opinion we can not export our problems and import our solutions, " Varadkar said.

Accepting it would be a hard decision for voters to make in the traditionally deeply Catholic country, Varadkar said he would be advocating a Yes vote, convinced that abortion no longer had a place in the republic's constitution.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said early summer was the preferred time to hold a ballot on the matter.

Deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said the government was united on the issue, despite "differing viewpoints on the content of that legislation, particularly on 12 weeks' access unrestricted".

Mr Breen said his decision is influenced by his personal experience of losing a baby that was born at 20 weeks.