As the Cabinet meets to discuss a referendum on Ireland's abortion laws, RTÉ's Political Correspondent Mícheál Lehane looks at what the Taoiseach and his ministers will decide tonight.

Summer Referendum

The Cabinet will agree to hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment early this summer. The Government will aim to hold the vote in late May, but an exact date will not be known until closer the time.

That is because the legislation to give the green light to a referendum will first have to pass through the Dáil and Seanad.

The Question

The Government is expected to agree the general outline of the referendum question. It is likely to ask people if they want to retain the Eighth Amendment or to repeal it, and then add a provision to the Constitution giving the Oireachtas the power to set the laws on abortion.

Abortion up to 12 weeks

It is likely the Cabinet will agree to the Health Minister Simon Harris’ request to draft legislation that would allow abortion to take place here during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

This would be published before the referendum. However, it will only be enacted if the people voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Cabinet Agreement

The Taoiseach and his ministers are expected to collectively agree on the issues mentioned above. But each of them will be able to campaign on either side of the argument during the referendum campaign.

It is anticipated the Taoiseach will back calls for repeal and support the 12-week unrestricted abortion recommendation.

But some of his Ministers, including possibly Tánaiste Simon Coveney, may say that recommendation goes a step too far.