Ireland’s Catholic bishops have criticised the Government for not asking the Expert Group on Abortion to consider the option of holding a referendum to reverse the 1992 Supreme Court judgment in the X Case.

They said the more recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B, and C Cases permits such an option, but is not included in last week's report.

Last night Minister for Health James Reilly reiterated the Government's determination to bring legal clarity to the Supreme Court judgment in the X Case.

He denied this meant introducing abortion on demand.

In its initial response to the expert group report, the Irish Catholic Bishop’s Conference also said clearer guidelines within the current legislative framework may offer a way forward in the controversy.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Bishop of Kilmore Leo O'Reilly said the country's bishops believed the expert group's report on abortion was flawed.

He said legislation for abortion is not acceptable, and the expert group did not consider the whole range of options available.

"Three of the four proposals by the expert group included abortion. And that's not something that's acceptable in catholic teaching as everybody knows. The second thing is they don't seem to have considered the whole range of options available,” he said.

Yesterday, five bishops joined a protest outside Leinster House demanding that Fine Gael stick to its promise not to legalise abortion.

Several thousand people attended the demonstration.