The former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street has said the Eighth Amendment has caused grave harm to many, including death.

Peter Boylan also said the amendment has not achieved the original aim of its supporters, which he said was to prevent women in Ireland from having abortions.

He was speaking at the launch this morning of the 'Together for Yes' campaign, which is advocating for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment in the upcoming referendum.

The group is made up of different groups, including the Rape Crisis Network, Women's Aid, the Irish Family Planning Association and the Union of Students in Ireland. It also has cross-party support.

A number of politicians were present at today's event including Minister for Health Simon Harris, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, Labour TD Joan Burton, Green Party TD Catherine Martin, Solidarity/PBP TD Bríd Smith and Independent Senator Lynn Ruane.

Speaking to the media, Mr Harris said the event marked the start of an exciting civil group campaign.

He said it was about taking the message to the people that women needed to be trusted and that it was time for the introduction of safe and compassionate terminations.

Asked about the number of Fianna Fáil TDs who voted against the holding of the referendum, he said he did not want to get involved in "fringe issues" and said it was important to note the Dáil overwhelmingly voted for the referendum to take place.

He said it was important for the people to have their say on the issue.

Ms McDonald said her party's position on the removal of the Eighth Amendment was clear and members would be out campaigning for it.

She said it was time to trust women and to protect them.

The event also heard from the retired Supreme Court Justice Catherine McGuinness.

She said that she opposed the introduction in 1983 of the amendment and is a determined supporter of repealing it.

She said, what she described as the "tragic medical cases" of the last 35 years, has strengthened her original beliefs.

She said it was hypocritical to say that there is no abortion in Ireland, considering the amount of women who travel from here to other countries for terminations.

The event took place at the Pillar Room on the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital.

In a statement, the Rotunda Hospital said the room is operated by the Rotunda Foundation, which is "completely independent" of the hospital.

It said is has no influence over the control of the Pillar Room and said it wishes to make clear that the hospital does not support any political organisation or agenda.

A group of doctors, nurses, midwives and other health professionals, who support keeping the Eighth Amendment, briefed the media outside Leinster House this afternoon.

The Medical Alliance for a No Vote (above) said: "The proposal that the Government is bringing in is not about these rare cases.

"It is really about bringing in a regime, more liberal, more extreme than that's available in England.

"If we look to the UK - one in five pregnancies ends in abortion. Is that what we really want for Ireland? That is not health care."