Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said everyone in the Cabinet supports a change to the Irish constitution in relation to the issue of abortion.

Mr Coveney said he supports the removal of Article 43.3 and the status quo of how Ireland treats women in crisis pregnancy is totally unacceptable and should change, and he hopes the Irish people will support that change.

Minister Coveney was speaking at an event in London where he has been meeting political leaders to discuss the issue of Brexit.

He said that following a long Cabinet meeting on Monday to try to provide some clarity to the country in terms of how to progress this issue, there was unanimity about how to move forward by holding a referendum hopefully before the end of May.

Addressing a press conference following the special Cabinet meeting, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that formal approval was given to the holding of a referendum on Eighth Amendment.

Mr Coveney said the Dáil and Seanad should legislate for this difficult, complex and emotive issue and the Government wants to do that.

While there are some differences of opinion in terms of the content of the legislation, Mr Coveney said there is more agreement than disagreement since the Government wants to protect women and their health.

He said there will also be discussion around the responsibility of the State to protect an unborn child and the prioritisation of women's lives and health in that context.

He said he hopes the debate this time around will not be as divisive and nasty as previous votes have been.