The leader of the Labour Party has said we do not live in a theocracy and the view of a priest, bishop or imam is equal only to that of any other citizen of Ireland.

Brendan Howlin was speaking on RTÉ's This Week following comments from Archbishop Eamon Martin yesterday that there is no such thing as 'limited' abortion.

Mr Howlin said that he would expect to hear nothing else from the Archbishop and that the Catholic Church has a clear view on the issue.

He also said he would support legislation which allows abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape, incest and when the health of the mother is under threat.

Mr Howlin said he voted against the bill to insert the Eighth Amendment to the constitution in 1983 and he would like to see it repealed.

The Wexford TD said abortion is a very serious and profound issue and we need to listen to individual stories and circumstances.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Martin has called on politicians not to leave their faith "outside of the door" when it comes to issues to do with policy and public policy.

The Catholic Primate of All Ireland was speaking on the same programme following his statement yesterday.

When asked is it possible that Catholics could support abortion in certain circumstances, the Archbishop of Armagh responded by stating that there is no statement, in the teaching of the church, supporting the deliberate and intentional taking of human life at any stage.

Archbishop Martin also questioned whether a referendum on the Eighth Amendment is necessary at this time, and he wondered if this is really a big issue on the door steps.

The church has not considered making funding available for a particular pro-life group, he said.

However, Archbishop Martin said that the church would try and support people who are speaking on this issue at a parish level.

He said he believes the existing Eighth Amendment is something precious and wonderful in Ireland's constitution.

He continued that it is "gravely wrong" to believe that we could take the life of a human at any stage. 

He said: "I think that if you're a Catholic who wishes to be informed by the teaching of your church, you will not find in the teaching of your church a statement that you can support the deliberate and intentional taking of human life at any stage."