Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has stated that the four members of his party who voted against the passage of the abortion referendum in the Irish parliament will not be allowed to stand for the party in the next election.

The four, all backbench TDS, could be joined by as many as six more when the final version of the bill is voted. Among the politicians closely watched will be Junior Minister Lucinda Creighton. Kenny said all members of the party signed an oath of loyalty.

"I would find that very difficult to have a position where people who know when they sign at the beginning what it is about," Mr Kenny said.

"I don't expect that they can be candidates for the Fine Gael party in the next general election. I hope I make that perfectly clear.

"It's regrettable to lose any member of a party. In this case I invested a lot of personal time myself over the years in working with many candidates and all of those who obviously were elected, so that's regrettable."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny to speak at US Ireland Law and Business SymposiumJulien Behal / PRESS ASSOCIATION