The Government has lifted the time limit on debate in the Dáil on the legislation providing for a referendum on abolition of the Seanad.

The Government has decided to adjourn the debate if all TDs who wish to speak have not done so.

It would then conclude the debate next Tuesday to allow it to go to the Seanad on Wednesday.

However, if everyone who wants to speak has done so before this evening, then a vote will be taken.

During the debate, Labour TD Dominic Hannigan said that he had the opportunity of learning from some of the greatest parliamentarians when he was a Senator.

He said that he has observed the Seanad operation on good days, when it debated issues such as NAMA, civil partnership and the bank guarantee.

The Meath East TD also said that he has been there on farcical occasions, when Seanad business was stopped to allow golf outings to take place and Senators argue about their expenses.

Mr Hannigan said the Seanad is an expensive crèche for aspiring TDs and a nursing home for aspiring statespeople. He said it needed to be shut down.

Independent TD Finian McGrath said he strongly opposes the abolition of the Seanad.

Mr McGrath said change and reform are needed and he called for a more inclusive Seanad.

He said that abolition is "wrong, wrong, wrong".