Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny has responded to threats from the Catholic Church over the abortion debate – and reminded Cardinal Sean Brady that he has a duty to legislate for limited abortion.

Kenny made the remarks on a visit to Knock Airport in Mayo, just miles from a pro-life vigil attended by Cardinal Brady over the weekend.

The Catholic Church leader in Ireland warned Kenny and all politicians that they faced excommunication from the church if they voted in favor of proposals to introduce new abortion legislation.

But Kenny has insisted that his government are duty bound to lead legislative change if that is the wish of the people.

Kenny told the Irish Times: “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion here but as explained to the Cardinal and members of the church my book is the constitution and the constitution is determined by the people.

“That’s the people’s book. We live in a Republic and I have a duty and responsibility as head of Government to legislate in respect of what the people’s wishes are.”

Kenny told reporters in Mayo that the people’s wishes had been determined and set out by the Supreme Court, which determined what the Constitution actually meant.

He added: “People have given their views on this already but it’s now a process that we’ve entered into as a legislature and that’s our responsibility in this Republic.

“It is time to bring clarity and certainty to it. It is time to recognise that we’ve gone on now for 30 years without any regulation without any professionalism involved in this area and that’s what this is all about.”

Some Fine Gael backbenchers have threatened to vote against the legislation when it is presented to parliament.

Kenny said: “Well I would hope that we could bring everybody with us on this matter. It is a matter for Ireland and its people.

“We live within the parameters of the constitution and strictly within the confines of the law. That’s where the heads of the bill are entirely focused, within the constitution and within the law.

“There is no change on the abortion legislation as applies in Ireland but it is time to bring clarity and certainty to it and I hope that that can be achieved now in an even and a considered fashion.”