The Government has postponed for a week a decision on whether or not to proceed with a referendum on same sex marriage.
The Cabinet was due to consider a recommendation by the Constitutional Convention on the issue today but deferred it to allow Taoiseach Enda Kenny to consult Fine Gael backbenchers on the issue.
Concern about proceeding with a referendum has emerged in Fine Gael in recent days and it is likely that the parliamentary party will discuss the matter before it goes to cabinet.
Those on the back benches are keen to avoid any repeat of the divisions seen in the party over the abortion legislation, which led to the loss of five TDs and two Senators.
“I support the holding of a referendum. I think we need to see marriage equality in this country,” said Dublin South-East TD Eoghan Murphy said earlier this week.
He added that Fine Gael should facilitate the holding of a referendum but that it did not mean the party has to take to a position in that referendum.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who is strongly pushing for the referendum, has in recent days proposed legislation to allow same sex couple adopt children.
That has sparked concern in Fine Gael and opposition to a commitment on a referendum is growing.
On Monday, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said his understanding was that there would be a referendum on gay marriage in early 2015.
“I am looking forward to putting that proposal to the people,’’ the Minister said, adding that such a vote might be part of a series of recommendations to come out of the convention.