The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has reaffirmed that Ireland's forthcoming presidency of the European Union will try to resolve the difficulties over a draft constitution.

Speaking after a meeting at Dublin Castle this morning with the President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, and leaders of the various political groupings, Mr Ahern said that while there is a sense of disappointment about how things worked out last week, there is no sense of crisis.

He added that the Irish presidency will assess during the months of January and February if a new constitution can be hammered out.

He said that Ireland would love to be in a position to complete the work, but it can only be done if there is a willingness.

Mr Ahern also said that no date has been set for a visit by US President George W Bush to Ireland as part of the presidency, but said he will be meeting the US President at the G8 summit and at the NATO summit during the presidency.

Gardaí to take low key approach

In a separate development, Gardaí have said there are not planning to use CS gas, water cannon or smoke guns in the event of disturbances during the EU Presidency.

They say they are taking a low-key approach to policing potential disturbances.

Riot and crowd control training is being given to 1,000 gardaí, and public order units have been established in each of the country's six garda divisions.

Each garda has been given special clothing at a cost of over €700 each.

In addition to the costs of the Air Support, Dog and Horse Unit, the bill so far is over €1m.