The Justice Minister Alan Shatter is proposing a referendum to overhaul the courts.

Mr Shatter said the plans, approved by Cabinet, include a move to amend article 34 of the Constitution, in order to allow the Oireachtas to establish a Court of Civil Appeal and new family courts.

He is also in favour of changes to procedures under Article 26 which allows a President to refer a bill to the Supreme Court, in order to test its constitutionality.

Minister Shatter announced the plans at the launch of the Courts Service Annual Report.