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Rift deepens in Coalition's abortion row

A SERIOUS rift within the Coalition over abortion has deepened despite efforts by Eamon Gilmore to play down the divisions.

The Tanaiste attempted to avoid further antagonising Fine Gael TDs by refusing to say whether abortion laws would be passed.

With an expert group preparing to deliver a key report, Labour leader Mr Gilmore, pictured, said they would wait to see the recommendations before drawing conclusions.

But his comments came after Labour Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch said the Government will have no choice but to legislate for the X case on abortion.

"Clearly, there will be differences (within the Coalition) but, in terms of legislation, in this particular instance, we won't have a choice," Ms Lynch said.

She added: "I think there's no point in putting expert groups in place if you're not then going to listen to their recommendations."

Mr Gilmore said it was a "sensitive issue" but said they would have to wait for the expert group's findings in September before proceeding. But Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty said she feared legislating for even limited abortion would lead to it becoming widespread.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said he "remains to be convinced" that the Oireachtas should legislate for the X case.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that abortion was permissible where the life of the mother was at risk.

The group is examining the 2010 European Court of Human Rights judgment which found the rights of women had been breached by the failure to legislate.