Up to 15 TDs were not in the Dáil chamber to pose questions to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton.

Leas-Cheann Comhairle Michael Kitt noted there were not "too many" deputies in the Dáil but proceeded to call them.

Those listed and called upon were Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath, Éamon Ó Cuív, Dara Calleary (who stepped out of the chamber briefly), Seán Fleming, Charlie McConalogue, Independent TDs Catherine Murphy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Tommy Broughan and Mick Wallace, United Left Alliance's Clare Daly, Fine Gael's Patrick O'Donovan, Seán Kyne, Pat Deering, and People Before Profit's Richard Boyd Barrett.

He then called on Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín who was in the chamber.

Mr Tóibín criticised the "ludicrous situation that has become Ministers' Questions".

He said Opposition TDs have a reduction in the level of questions they can submit to a minister, while Government TDs who put in questions to the minister "don't even bother turning up".

Minister for Small Business and the EU SME Envoy for Ireland John Perry said Mr Tóibín's comment was "unfair".

Mr Perry said it was not just Government TDs who posed the questions, adding that the questions were mainly from the Opposition, and they were not there to pose them.

The minister said it was incorrect for Mr Tóibín to make such a comment.

A number of the TDs listed by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle later arrived in the Dáil and posed some questions before Ministers' Questions ended.

Ms Murphy said this evening that many of those TDs absent from the Dáil were busy with political work elsewhere in Leinster House.

She said she was not present because she was at an Oireachtas committee hearing.

Ms Murphy said: "These reports about TDs not being in the chamber during business are designed to give the impression that politicians are not at work when in fact the very opposite is true. 

"You will find that many more of those absent from the chamber had similar scheduling conflicts.

"The Oireachtas committees are continuously scheduled in such a way that they clash with the business of the Dáil."