Fianna Fáil-sponsored legislation calling for a five-year minimum sentence for anyone convicted of assaulting or threatening the life of a frontline emergency worker has been voted down in the Dáil.

The Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill had been debated in the House on Friday.

It was defeated by 91 votes to 42.

There was widespread concern raised during the debate about the level of anti-social behaviour that emergency workers faced on Arthur's Day and are set to face on Halloween.

Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary said his Bill sought to protect frontline workers including gardaí, hospital employees and prison officers from grievous harm with the full and enhanced force of the law.

His party colleague, Brendan Smith, complained about incidents on the night of Arthur’s Day, while Independent TD Catherine Murphy said Halloween had become a really evil time.

Opposing the Bill, the Government benches said the legislation was premature in advance of a Law Reform Commission report and the report of a working group on penal reform.

There was also concern about removing the discretion of the courts on sentencing.

Sinn Féin had said the Bill should pass through the Dáil where it could be amended to the satisfaction of all parties.