The Dáil has approved new measures to elect the next Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot.

Under the changes, the Ceann Comhairle will be elected by secret ballot for the first time since the foundation of the State after the forthcoming general election. 

Proposals from the Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe to change the Dáil's rules or standing orders were adopted this morning.

Under the new system a candidate must be nominated by seven other TDs before a vote. 

"These reforms will strengthen the Oireachtas in both its role as a legislature and in its ability to hold the Government of the day to account,” he said.

"This is the third package of Dáil reforms since 2011 and this government is proud of its record in reforming the Dáil,” he added.

But opposition TDs were critical of the Government's record on political reform during this morning's debate.

Fianna Fáil's Robert Troy said the Government had not delivered on the 'democratic revolution' it promised in 2011.

Independent TD Shane Ross was also critical of today's move.

"Why do we need a secret ballot to elect the most important post in the House?” he questioned.

“Another insider will be elected and secret deals will be done."

A new system of selecting the chairpersons of Oireachtas Committees was also agreed this morning.

Under other changes approved today, the Taoiseach will now also be required to appear before the Working Group of Committee Chairs twice a year.