Controversial changes to Dáil speaking time rules were passed after a heated late night debate saw the Dáil suspended twice, a call to have an emergency debate on the issue rejected and a walk-out from some opposition TDs.

The rule changes were agreed without a vote just before midnight last night, after a vote to allow an emergency debate on the issue was rejected by 86 votes to 63.

Under plans, which became public after being discussed at the Dáil business committee yesterday afternoon, Government parties will be given more speaking time than they currently have under the existing system.

Government says the changes are needed as Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party backbench TDs rarely have an opportunity to speak, while TDs from smaller opposition parties have more chances to speak.

However, opposition parties say the planned changes are an attempt to limit the speaking opportunities of TDs critical of Government by pushing their speaking times into later time slots in debates.

Just before 10pm, a number of TDs from smaller opposition parties criticised the decision to change Dáil speaking time rules and called for an emergency 40-minute debate.

Solidarity-PBP TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry and Rise TD for Dublin South West Paul Murphy raised the issue at 9.45pm, saying a debate is needed instead of a simple vote.

After a number of minutes of trying to restore order, and telling both sides of the House heckling "is not helping", Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly adjourned the Dail for 10 minutes.

When the Dáil resumed, it was agreed to hold a vote on whether to allow a debate and a vote on the speaking time rules issue, or to hold a simple vote.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Ms Connolly also allowed a short speech from each Dáil grouping on the issue.

Solidarity-PBP TD Bríd Smith said the potential speaking time rule change is "like a dictatorship", while Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall said "there is no logic" to the proposed changes.

Aontú TD Peadar Toibin said the Government is "pushing our [smaller parties] voices to the graveyard shift", while Rural Independents TD Mattie McGrath said "this is a three card trick, an attempt to muzzle".

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar responded by saying he is "embarrassed" by the comments from opposition TDs, and said in his opinion smaller parties are "bullying" people online and trying to "dominate" the Dáil chamber.

He said it is wrong that parties with "just a few percent" of poll support have more opportunities to speak than Government backbench TDs with tens of thousands of votes.

Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming and Sinn Féin TD Padraig MacLochlainn both said in their opinion representatives in the chamber should "at least have a vote".

When the vote took place, the Government won the ballot to go directly to a vote on the proposed speaking time rule changes instead of also allowing a debate, by 86 votes to 63.

At a later stage of the discussion, a number of opposition TDs - including those from Solidarity-People Before Profit, the Social Democrats, Labour and some Independents - walked out in protest at a lack of full debate.

After a number of other amendments, during which Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghail also adjourned the Dáil for a number of minutes, the speaking time changes were walked through without a vote.

The Dáil is not scheduled to sit again until 15 September.