Efforts by Opposition TDs to raise this morning's deportation of failed asylum seekers in the Dáil have been ruled out of order.

The Socialist Party TD, Joe Higgins, called for a special debate on what he called the 'cruel and heartless' deportation of more than 60 illegal immigrants to Eastern Europe, but his request was refused by the Ceann Comhairle.

In a statement, Labour's Joe Costello questioned whether the allocation of so much garda time and money to the deportation of penniless people was the best use of resources.

At around 8.30am this morning, 64 failed asylum seekers were deported to Romania and Moldova. They were flown from Dublin Airport on a specially chartered plane.

The group, which included families with children, was arrested in various parts of the country under ministerial orders yesterday in one of the biggest crackdowns on illegal immigrants.

They were accompanied on the flight by over 30 gardaí.

Flight costs €120,000

The specially chartered 737 flight from Dublin to Bucharest and on to Moldova cost over €120,000. Of the 64 people on board, 52 were Romanian, while the remaining 12 were Moldovan.

All of them had been refused asylum in Ireland, had been through the appeals process and were subject to deportation orders signed by the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell.

The Garda Immigration Bureau established their locations in Dublin, Athlone, Mosney and Galway over the past weeks, and all were arrested and held for deportation in a series of raids yesterday. Six people succeeded in avoiding deportation after they went to the High Court.