Leo Varadkar told MPs the government has agreed an 'indicative timeline'

Ireland’s prime minister says the country will hold a referendum on lifting its constitutional ban on abortion in May or June.

Leo Varadkar told lawmakers on Tuesday that the government has agreed an “indicative timeline” for the vote on the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution.

The 1983 amendment commits authorities to defend equally the right to life of the mother and unborn child, giving largely Roman Catholic Ireland the strictest abortion ban in Europe. Abortion is legal only in rare cases where the mother’s life is in danger.

Ireland’s parliament still has to approve a bill authorising the referendum.

Varadkar also announced plans for referendums on issues including Ireland’s blasphemy law and its restrictive divorce laws.