Shock as Bishops march in protest against efforts to liberalize abortion law - VIDEO

A protester at the pro-life vigil

However, he stressed that, "This does not mean abortion on demand.”

"We must protect the life of the pregnant mother and yet vindicate the right of the unborn child. We have to clarify what is available by way of treatment to the women of Ireland, and clarify what is legal for the professionals who must provide that care."

In response Labor Party Minister Pat Rabbitte stated: “I would be somewhat surprised at the cardinal’s reference to lobbying and engaging with, canvassing public representatives and so on on the matter,” he said.

“I don’t have any objection to any of the churches stating its position and making it clear but I think it would be a retrogressive step if we were to go back to the days of the Catholic Church dictating to elected public representatives how [they] should address an issue that a very large section of our society believes that governments in the past ought to already have done.”