Fianna Fáil TD Bobby Aylward has said he believes that he and those who attended last night's meeting on the Eighth Amendment represent the majority view of Fianna Fáil at grassroots and parliamentary level.

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD called the meeting after party leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil that he favours repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Mr Martin also said that he accepts the recommendation of the Oireachtas Committee that terminations should be permitted up to 12 weeks' gestation.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Aylward said the intention of last night's meeting was to assure the party's supporters that there are still a lot of representatives who are in favour of retaining the Eighth Amendment.

He would not confirm the exact number who attended the meeting at Leinster House, but it is understood eight members attended.

Mr Aylward described it as a get together of like-minded people against the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, saying they had "very informal discussions" with no chairman.

He said he sent an email to the 44 members of the parliamentary party, including Mr Martin, informing them of the meeting.

He said he received 18 apologies from those who said they could not attend as they had other appointments.

Mr Martin has said that he thinks there is a substantial number of party members who believe the law on abortion should change.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, he accepted that a majority of parliamentary party members were probably against repealing the Eighth Amendment.

He said each member of the party has a freedom of conscience vote on the matter.

Mr Martin said he has been very heartened by the responses he has received from both members and non-members of the Fianna Fáil party.

He said some people were disappointed with his Dáil speech in support of repeal, but others, particularly women, have approached him and shared their stories about how the amendment has affected their families.