Partners of pregnant women and new mothers will be allowed to accompany them to maternity hospitals for scans and other medical appointments under plans expected to be announced tomorrow.

RTÉ News understands that a uniform approach will be applied to maternity wards across the country following criticism that different hospitals had different rules.

Earlier, the Taoiseach told the Dáil that restrictions on partners accompanying women have "proven to be a very difficult issue for many people, and I acknowledge that".

In response to questions from Labour Party leader Alan Kelly, Micheál Martin said he would be speaking to the leadership of the Health Service Executive about recommendations from HSE clinical director Dr Peter McKenna that maternity services should be opened and there should be uniformity across the country.