The Tánaiste has said that it is her view that the eighth amendment of the Constitution does not serve women well when issues about their life, safety and health are in question.

Joan Burton said difficult situations arise and the people she would want to see around the bed were the doctors, not the lawyers.

She said as a society we have to ask a fundamental question whether or not it is right that in order to get appropriate medical treatment a person has to go to a lawyer, to get to a doctor.

She said it was a very difficult debate and there were no easy answers.

Ms Burton said people who offer right-on solutions on either extremes are doing a disservice.

She added that we need to reflect and think seriously on how to address this.

Asked about a referendum on the eighth amendment, she said there was no agreement in the Programme for Government for a referendum.

She said the Labour Party was one of the few political parties at the time that said the eighth amendment proposal was not in the interests of women.

She added that there needs to be a detailed discussion on the issue and the Labour Party had begun that conversation.

She also noted the comments by the Fine Gael minister for health who had been thinking about the issue.

The Tánaiste said the Government promised in the Programme for Government to address the issues around the X case and the ABC cases.

She said she knows that it was a difficult issue for Fine Gael and for Taoiseach Enda Kenny personally to address.

Ms Burton said cases are going to arise that no Constitution can set definite answers for.

She said this is something that should be reflected on.

Ms Burton said a current case before the courts, involving a brain dead pregnant woman on life support, was very difficult for the family involved.