Northern Ireland women may be allowed to have abortions in the Republic

Women from Northern Ireland could be able to have abortions in the Irish Republic when its new laws are introduced, the Irish premier has said.

Leo Varadkar said he could not imagine why women from Northern Ireland would not be able to receive treatment for crisis pregnancies, when Northern Irish people can already access healthcare in the Republic.

The Taoiseach made the comments as UK Prime Minister Theresa May comes under increasing pressure to make changes following the resounding Yes vote to liberalisation in the Republic.

Hundreds of pro-choice activists vowed to hit Northern Ireland like a "seismic wave" as they stepped up their bid for change with a rally in Belfast on Monday.

Protesters call for the provision of abortion in Northern Ireland
Protesters call for the provision of abortion in Northern Ireland

Abortions are outlawed in nearly all cases in Northern Ireland. Once legislation is passed in the Republic, Northern Ireland will be the only part of the UK or Ireland where prohibition is maintained.

"We do have people who already come to our hospitals from Northern Ireland for healthcare so I imagine it will be treated as a normal part of our health service," Mr Varadkar said.

But he added it would have to be examined as legislators draft a bill in the coming months.

Micheal Martin
Micheal Martin

Opposition TD Micheal Martin called on the Irish Government to ensure women in Northern Ireland can access abortion services in Irish GP surgeries and hospitals.

"It's our obligation and mandate to ensure the passage of this legislation because of the urgency of the issue for many women in our society," Mr Martin said.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the issue is very important as Brexit is looming.

Mr Varadkar told the Dail on Tuesday the Government wanted to legislate for abortion in Ireland as quickly as possible.

But he said it should not be rushed because some people do not accept the referendum result and may legally challenge the legislation.

Mr Varadkar said it is likely to be January before parliament will be able to give full effect to the will of the people.