Fine Gael deputies have welcomed the opportunity to speak to Church leaders opposed to any change in Ireland’s abortion law – putting them in direct conflict with their coalition partners.

A number of high profile Fine Gael members of the Irish parliament have said they will discuss the abortion issue with the Catholic hierarchy.

Their stance is in stark contrast to that of Labour Party high-flier and Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte who has told the Church to stay out of the political debate.

Rabbitte issued his ‘directive’ after Cardinal Sean Brady said the church would oppose any moves towards abortion or gay marriage.

Cardinal Brady also confirmed the Church would lobby deputies on the issue, called for a referendum as the ‘only solution’ and said the Catholic hierarchy would vigorously resist any moves to bring in abortion.

In response, Rabbitte told RTE Radio: “I was surprised when I heard the cardinal’s reference to lobbying and engaging, canvassing public representatives.

“I don’t welcome the cardinal promising to engage in the political campaign.

“I have no objection to the cardinal setting down his traditional view. But I think we have reached the stage in this country where we acknowledge the role of different faiths in our society and there ought to be separation between church and state.”

The Labour Party bigwig also said the Government saw no necessity to have a referendum.

Now the Irish Independent reports that Fine Gael deputy for Mayo John O’Mahony believes nobody should be ‘precluded’ from speaking to politicians in the debate.

O’Mahony said: “I talk to all sides on big issues, including the church and I will be doing so again on this one.

“I don’t think anyone should be precluded from talking to us. There was a time when the perception was the cardinal of the day would dictate policy, but that’s not the case any more.”

Cardinal Sean Brady has been accused of failing to take action on a warning from a victim that vile pedophile Fr Brendan Smyth was abusing five other children.Telegraph