Taoiseach Enda Kenny has confirmed that the Irish wording of the proposed amendment to the Constitution in the same-sex marriage referendum is to be changed following suggestions that it might have unintended consequences if passed.

Some observers had claimed that the Irish wording of the amendment, which takes precedence in law, could be construed as preventing heterosexual marriage.  

Mr Kenny said that the new wording would clarify matters.

According to the Taoiseach, the new Irish language wording of the referendum is: "Féadfaidh beirt gan beann ar a gnéis conradh pósta a dhéanamh de reir dlí."

He said it is a more literal translation of the English wording: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

Speaking in Irish about the change, the Taoiseach said that while those who had recommended the initial wording were standing over what had originally been agreed, it was decided to alter it because reports of some concern expressed about the interpretation of that wording in recent weeks. 

He said that the new wording is stronger and clearer and that the Cabinet accepted it as such.

He said that he did not accept that the wording was bungled - he said that "those competent with high quality Irish were happy with the first wording brought in but that the new wording gives greater clarity to the meaning in the words, in particular, in respect to the question being asked as to whether there is approval for marriage between same sex people without any difficulty".

He said that there was a possible lesson to be learned for the next referendum when the wording is being formulated that the "rannóg stáit" which deals with the "caighdeán Gaeilge" would be in at all discussion from the beginning.

Meanwhile, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has said the outcome of the referendum is not something the Government takes for granted.

But he said the reception so far from the public had been very good.

Asked about the contribution of bishops to the debate, he said some had been balanced while others had not.  

However, he said on the simple question, the right of two people who love each other to marry, the Irish people were responding to it well.

Elsewhere, the Bishop of Elphin has reportedly said he regrets any hurt his words on same-sex marriage may have caused.

Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin told journalists in Maynooth that Bishop Kevin Doran told him last night that he was sorry for any offence he may have caused in his comments on Newstalk Radio.

Dr Doran had said gay parents of children are not necessarily parents and that homosexual people are not born gay or lesbian.

Dr Martin said he is confident that Bishop Doran did not intend any hurt, but that, sometimes, when things are said they can be insensitive.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Dr Martin said that bishops, throughout the debate on the referendum, should try to respect the views of people who think differently to them, but also trust that the views of bishops are heard and respected.

Earlier, he said the people of Ireland need to consider very carefully the profound implications of the Government's same-sex marriage referendum.

He was speaking alongside Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin at an unscheduled news conference in Maynooth.

The referendum on same sex marriage will be held on 22 May.