Fine Gael leader in the Seanad Maurice Cummins has said that there will be a referendum on the future of the institution next year.

He was speaking in the Seanad this morning.

In 2009, Taoiseach Enda Kenny shocked his Fine Gael Seanad colleagues when he announced if elected Taoiseach he would move a referendum to abolish the institution within a year of taking office, arguing that the cost of a second chamber could no longer be justified.

Since then there has been much discussion about the complexities and desirability of abolition, but no definite action has been taken despite Mr Kenny's deadline having passed.

Mr Cummins' remarks drew an immediate response from Fianna Fáil’s Paschal Mooney, who said his party would be opposing the measure.

Labour senators are believed to be unhappy about the plan, but have not yet outlined an official stance.