"It didn't defeat us. It's challenged us and we are now going to have to learn to live with it."

The words of Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl as TDs are set to return to the Dáíl chamber this week, having spent more than a year sitting in the Convention Centre.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week in Politics, Mr Ó Feargháíl said the move back to Leinster House was possible because of the level of members, staff and the public who have been vaccinated, and following consultation with health authorities.

The Dáil reconvenes next Wednesday, with the Government and Opposition sides set to face off on a confidence motion in Fine Gael Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

The Ceann Comhairle says normal criteria for that debate will apply, but he will encourage members to maintain social distance while speaking.

"We're asking people to have regard to public health guidance, a degree of social distancing and mask wearing at all time in the complex."

He said for the first week back, 78 members will be able to sit in the chamber, as opposed to 22 under previous Covid restrictions.

All members will be able to vote in the House on the confidence motion.

"That will require full attendance and we have organised the chamber in such a manner that the lobbies at the back, the public gallery and the bull pen [where civil servants and visitors sometimes sit] can be brought into commission and all 160 members can be accommodated for a vote."

The following week, as restrictions ease further, deputies will be able to resume electronic voting in the chamber, but the requirement to wear masks will remain.

Speaking of his experience chairing debates in the Convention Centre, Mr Ó Fearghaíl said it was sometimes difficult to know who was talking due to the size of the space.

"One of the most difficult things for me in the early stages was when I'd hear a voice and wonder where on earth are they, are they up there in the balcony, and when time went on some of them would be making excited contributions and you'd wonder at times if there was a risk they would come tumbling down."

Now the Dáil will sit again in its chamber, he said there is no plan to return to the Convention Centre.

"We completed business there at the end of July, the transaction with them is complete."

He added discussions did take place about a possible return in extremis, but that is not something they expect to happen.

The Ceann Comhairle said the public should be aware the board of the Convention Centre did not charge the Oireachtas any rent or any fee for the use of the facility, something they deeply appreciate.

He added the temporary move across the Liffey did cost the Exchequer €2.25m, 60% of which was associated with the cost of broadcasting.

Over all he said the cost of operating the Oireachtas for 2020 came in under budget by €14m.