The Taoiseach has defended the garda handling of last nights anti-war demonstration outside Leinster House.

Mr Ahern said protestors had threatened to blockade the houses of the Oireachtas and that could not be allowed.

Rejecting charges of excessive force, the Taoiseach suggested that the demonstrators would have been more roughly handled in many other countries.

He said the gardaí did what they had to do in removing them.

The Minister for Justice said he had 'no problem' with the way gardaí handled the demonstration.

Michael McDowell said gardaí had used no violence in removing protestors, and that they were breaking the law by blocking the street outside Leinster House.

Earlier, attempts to have the business of the Dáil suspended to debate the garda handling of last night's protest were ruled out of order by the Ceann Comhairle.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins, one of those lifted from the street by gardaí, accused the force of ‘gross over-reaction’.

Mr Higgins also called on the Minister for Justice to explain why gardaí in riot gear were not wearing identification numbers.

Deputies from Labour, the Greens and Sinn Féin also called for an immediate debate on the issue, but were turned down by the Ceann Comhairle.

Minister McDowell said there was no provision for identification numbers on garda riot gear at the moment, but added the Garda authorities were looking into how this could be done.

Two people were arrested for public order offences during the protest, which was attended by around 500 people.

One person - a juvenile - was subsequently charged with a breach of the Public Order Act, and will be brought before Dublin District Court at a later date.

The second arrested person has been released without charge.

Seanad discusses protest

There has been a mixed reaction in the Seanad to last night's scuffles.

Fine Gael Senator Jim Higgins described the protest as being more like a Fascist display than a pacifist one.

He said that it was intolerable that members of the Oireachtas should have to retreat into Leinster House under garda protection.

PD Senator John Dardis said it was one of the most threatening and serious disturbances he has seen.

Independent Senator Joe O'Toole suggested that the protestors may have seen their demonstration hijacked by others.

Labour's Brendan Ryan said the anti-war demonstrators had been shown far less tolerance than those taking part in other demonstrations in the past.

Independent Senator David Norris said that the incident had only caused mild inconvenience, and needed to be seen in context.