The Dáil is to adjourn this evening for a 12-week summer recess, returning on 29 September.

Opposition parties objected to the length of the recess, but the Government had a majority of six in the vote on the adjournment.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said it is 'nonsense' for the Opposition to suggest that the Government is on holidays during the Dáil recess.

Mr Cowen said all Oireachtas committees would be continuing their work and he said the budgetary process would also be under way during the summer break.

The Taoiseach rejected the suggestion the Dáil has limped into recess, saying that despite a number of Government deputies and senators losing the party whip, important work remains to be done.

Asked about Labour leader Eamon Gilmore's suggestion that September would be a good time to hold bye-elections, Mr Cowen said the Government was concentrating on the important work it had to do.

He said a €3bn adjustment in finances is required and he said work to prepare the Budget and Budget strategy is under way.

He said that the Dáil will decide when bye-elections are held.

Meanwhile, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan has defended the length of the Dáil summer recess.

He said that 'the perception that the Dáil has stopped work and that politicians are not doing anything is not true.'

Eamon Ryan explained why his party's view on the length of the recess was different now that it is in Government.

He continued that 'if you looked in detail at what was done in this parliament and by the Green Party in particular, you would never see a harder working parliament. '

Mr Ryan also said that the Government had not decided when it would hold the outstanding Dail bye-elections, saying it was unlikely they would be held this summer, but that he would like to see them soon.

Earlier Fine Gael's James Reilly said ordinary people could not fathom the length of the recess, and accused the Government of having no time or regard for the jobless.

Eamon Gilmore urged the Government to sit for one day at the beginning of September to pass legislation to allow the Children's Referendum and three pending bye-elections to be held while the Dáil is not sitting.

Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that rather than adjourning the Dáil, the Government should dissolve it and hold a General Election.

For the past decade, the Dáil has usually returned from its summer recess on the last Wednesday of September.

The exceptions were last year, when it returned on 16 September to debate NAMA, 2002 when it came back on 4 September to pass the legislation to hold the second referendum on the Nice Treaty and 2001 when it came back on 18 September for statements on the 9/11 attacks on the US.

In 2000, TDs did not return until 3 October.

The Dáil and the Seanad held late night sittings as TDs and Senators cleared the legislative list before the recess.