The Fine Gael parliamentary party has decided to oppose the Government referendum on abortion.

The Fine Gael party leader, Michael Noonan, said the proposal was adopted unanimously at a meeting of the parliamentary party.

He said that while the party would campaign against the measure, members would be allowed to follow their own consciences on the issue.

Fine Gael members who have a conscientious difficulty with the decision will not be required to participate in the campaign and will be free to express their views.

The polling date for the referendum has not yet been set.