Ceann Comhairle Séan Barrett has tonight defended a move to ensure all TDs get speaking time in the Dáil chamber.

TDs Lucinda Creighton, Peter Mathews and Mattie McGrath have been told by the Clerk of the Dáil they are now members of the Technical Group.

The Technical Group has objected to this and the Dáil had to be suspended for most of the day after members repeatedly voiced their opposition to the move.

However, a spokesperson for the Ceann Comhairle has said it is Mr Barrett's job to interpret and apply the rules of the House in accordance with standing orders.

They said: "The Ceann Comhairle has advocated on several occasions that it is a fundamental right of all democratically elected members to speak in the House.

"He is extremely mindful of his obligation to uphold the rights and privileges of all members in accordance with the Constitution and the standing orders of Dáil Éireann.

"To suggest otherwise is simply wrong."

The spokesperson said too that any TD who meets the criteria as set out in the Dáil standing order 120 and informs the Ceann Comhairle that they have joined a Technical Group automatically become members of that group.

The Dáil was this afternoon suspended due to the row over the Technical Group's speaking rights.

Three Independent TDs, Catherine Murphy, John Halligan and Thomas Pringle, were earlier suspended over the course of an hour.

After the third TD was suspended, Independent TD Finian McGrath stood to his feet to raise Dáil speaking rights for the Technical Group.

The Ceann Comhairle then suspended the business of the House until tomorrow morning.