Social Affairs Minister Seamus Brennan has given a strong indication there will not be a referendum before the next election to sort out the constitutional problems arising from the C case.

He said it will be very difficult to make progress in the short term and there should be no artificial deadline set.

Minister Brennan said he would be 'reluctant' to rush into lowering the age of consent, but he added that the practicalities have to be looked at, and care must be taken not to criminalise teenagers.

Labour's Joan Burton said that Fine Gael's opposition to the lowering of the age of consent has to be listened to, but she said her party believes it is wrong to criminalise 16 year-olds having underage sex.

The Greens Dan Boyle said the looming election is informing this debate more than it should.

On another issue, Dan Boyle, Joan Burton and the Minister agreed that mobile phone masts should not be located near schools.

This comes amid controversy over the major upgrading of existing masts at garda stations close to schools in Shankhill in Co Dublin and beside the primary school in Kilgarvan in Co Kerry.

Minister Brennan said the 'sensible and the smart thing' to do is not to built masts near schools.

The INTO's deputy general secretary Sheila Noonan told the programme that her members had concerns about masts built beside schools.

She said a cautious approach must be taken because who can tell what the results will be in 40 or 50 years time.