A bill to allow the holding of a referendum on the Eighth Amendment has been passed by the Dáil. 

This evening, it was passed by 97 votes to 25.

It will now be sent to the Seanad for a three day debate beginning next Tuesday.

The development paves the way for a referendum to be held at the end of May.

Among those opposing the bill were 17 Fianna Fáil TDs, two Fine Gael TDs and six Independents.

Earlier, Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan was suspended from the party for three months after voting against the 36th Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018.

It came after the second stage of the bill to allow for the referendum was passed in the Dáil by 110 votes to 32.

In a statement earlier, Sinn Féin said it was party policy to support repeal of the Eighth Amendment and to campaign in a referendum to achieve that objective.

If the Eighth Amendment is repealed, then 13 words would be placed in the Constitution that would give the Oireachtas the power to legislate in this area.

Earlier, the Taoiseach said the Government would respect the result of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Leo Varadkar was responding to a question in the Dáil from the Independent TD Mattie McGrath.

Mr McGrath expressed concern over a suggestion attributed in newspapers to Minister for Employment Affairs Regina Doherty that a second referendum campaign would take place if repealing the Eighth Amendment is unsuccessful.

The Rural Independent TD said it made a shameful mockery of the democratic process and he asked the minister to withdraw her remarks.

The Taoiseach said if the referendum is passed he hoped that people would respect that.

He said if it is defeated, the Government would respect that decision and would not be bringing forward a proposal for a new referendum during the period of the current Government.

Separately, the Taoiseach has also said that the Government will consider yesterday's judgment by the European Court of Human Rights about the 'hooded men', and make a decision whether or not to appeal it.

The ECHR rejected the Government's case that the 14 men who were interned in Northern Ireland in the 1970s were subjected to torture.

Judicial Appointments Bill due back before Dáil

Meanwhile, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan told the Dáil that the Judicial Appointments Bill will be back before the house "over the next few weeks".

The matter was raised by Labour Party leader Bredan Howlin, who mentioned newspaper reports that there was "rancour" at the Cabinet table this week over the appointment of three judges in advance of the enactment of the bill.

The bill, which is going through committee stage in the Oireachtas, has been strongly promoted by the Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

It proposes to have judges appointed by a new body with a lay majority and chair.

Minister Flanagan said it was a very important piece of legislation and a priority for the Government.

"I can assure Deputy Howlin it will be back in this house for early enactment," Mr Flanagan said.