Minister for Health Simon Harris will today announce the establishment of a working group to examine ways of removing cost barriers to accessing contraception.

The group will examine a number of issues on cost including whether or not a doctor's prescription should be required for the contraceptive pill.

Minister Harris said he hopes the measures will reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and promote good sexual health.

The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, whose recommendations led to a referendum to remove the constitutional ban on abortion last year, also made a number of other recommendations on reproductive health.

These included that contraception should be free of charge.

It raised particular concerns about the cost of the contraceptive pill, which is free for those on medical cards, but requires GP fees and prescription costs to those who are not.

The committee said these costs can be prohibitive. 

The group will also look at practice in other countries and whether any legal or licensing issues have to be addressed.

It is expected the working group will make recommendations to the minister in the autumn.