Taoiseach Enda Kenny has brought a memo to Cabinet to set up a Citizens' Assembly, which will look at a number of issues starting with the Eighth Amendment, which deals with the right to life of the unborn, with equal regard to the right to life of the mother.

The Dáil will have to pass a resolution to establish the assembly.

It is understood the assembly will sit for a year to address all issues referred to it, such as fixed parliaments but it will issue a report on each issue as they are completed.

The report on the Eighth Amendment will be referred to an All Party Oireachtas Committee when completed.

It is thought that the assembly will hold its first meeting by November.

A polling company will appoint citizens to the assembly based on gender, age and region and €200,000 in funding has been allocated from the Taoiseach's Department.

A chairperson will also be appointed.

Meanwhile, junior minister John Halligan has said the Independent Alliance will be asking the Government for a free vote on Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace's bill on fatal foetal abnormalities, which is due to be debated next week.

Mr Halligan said he will be voting the way he always votes and will support Mr Wallace's bill.

"We will challenge it every step of the way" - Sherlock

The Pro Life Campaign has described the proposed Citizens' Assembly on abortion as a "pretend process with a prearranged outcome."

Spokesperson Cora Sherlock said that "no amount of spin from government ministers can disguise the fact that the process is about anything other than stripping the unborn child of its last remaining legal protections."

Ms Sherlock added that "the Pro Life Campaign will challenge this sham process every step of the way."