The Thirty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018 seeks to delete Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution and substitute it with wording confirming that the Oireachtas may make laws for the regulation of the termination of pregnancy. The Bill passed all stages in the Houses of the Oireachtas on 28 March 2018.
The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government made a Polling Day Order for a referendum to be held on 25 May 2018 and the referendum was passed. A certificate with the provisional result of the referendum was published in Iris Oifigiuil on Tuesday, 29 May 2018.
Once the provisional result of the referendum was published, there followed a seven day period during which applications to make petitions could be received. Three applications for permission to challenge the result of the referendum have been made to the High Court under section 42 of the Referendum Act 1994. The High Court has fixed 26 June to hear the three applications. It is possible that the hearings may run over a number of days, after which a decision will be made by the Court.
The bringing of the legal challenge by way of referendum petition has meant that, on a number of occasions, the introduction of proposed legislation into the Oireachtas has been delayed pending the determination of a referendum petition. For example, following the marriage referendum, the introduction of the Marriage Bill into the Oireachtas was delayed until the 15 September 2015 when the applications for leave to bring the referendum petitions to challenge the result of the marriage referendum were finally determined on appeal and leave to bring a petition was refused on 30 July 2015.
It remains my absolute determination to have the legislation to regulate termination of pregnancy finalised by mid-July. However, it is not possible to initiate this legislation in the Oireachtas until the Court proceedings have concluded, the result of the referendum has been confirmed, and the President has signed the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018.