SEANAD reform is likely to be kicked into a talking shop with any action put off until after the next general election, the Irish Independent has learned.
The Labour Party will push today for early agreement on how to examine Seanad reform in the wake of the defeat of the abolition referendum.
But ministers are not convinced by the plans put forward to reform the Seanad, without a change to the Constitution, which would involve another referendum.
Setting up an all-party committee to come up with Seanad reform proposals, with reference to the Constitutional Convention, are on the table.
Labour and some Fine Gael ministers believe an announcement is needed on the way ahead in the wake of the referendum result.
Lucinda Creighton's Reform Alliance of Fine Gael rebels wants Dail business suspended to debate the future of the Seanad today.
And Taoiseach Enda Kenny continues to take flak for the referendum defeat, with another Labour minister putting the boot into him for failing to take part in a televised debate.
But after previously ruling out Seanad reform if the referendum was rejected, Mr Kenny yesterday promised to make the Seanad more effective.
The Cabinet will discuss the defeat of the referendum at its meeting today.
"The reform proposals put forward to date largely protect the senators' own positions. Ask the Constitutional Convention to go for a review, that's my view," a minister said.
But there is a lack of appetite to hold another referendum on the Seanad. "I don't think it's going to work if we confine it to the existing Constitution. Realistically, it is going to be a matter for the next Dail," a government source said.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said it was "a pity" Mr Kenny didn't take part in the TV debates on the abolition of the Seanad. She said the Government would now have to discuss how the Upper House could be reformed, and suggested that the matter could be referred to the Constitutional Convention.
"I think the Taoiseach's a very good debater so I don't think the debate would have in fact challenged him. In fact, I think he would have done very well," she said.
"Certainly I think, talking to people in the last few days before the vote, it certainly was mentioned significantly that people would have liked to have seen him on a debate or perhaps being interviewed at length on news programmes about why he was in favour of abolition," Ms Burton said.
The referendum fallout has sparked divisions between Labour senators – with a blame game going on between those who supported the Yes and No sides.
Labour Senator Denis Landy engaged in a public slagging match with his colleague Senator Lorraine Higgins, questioning whether she would be turning up to the Seanad today after supporting its abolition.
She responded by saying, "I back the Labour Party – do you?" – a reference to Mr Landy's decision to canvass against the official party position for the Seanad to be abolished.
Mr Landy said he had been a party member for 40 years, whereas she was nominated to the Seanad by Mr Kenny.
Relations between the two have been poor since Ms Higgins voted for another senator instead of Mr Landy to become Labour chief whip last year.
But there is also expected to be a focus in the Seanad today on Fine Gael senator Jim D'Arcy and three Sinn Fein senators – David Cullinane, Trevor O'Clohertaigh and Kathryn Reilly – who all backed abolition.
Labour senator Mary Moran said any senators who backed the 'Yes' side should consider their positions.
Meanwhile, the Government chief whip in the Seanad has described as "an untruth" his party's claim that the abolition of the Upper House could have saved the country €20m.
Senator Paul Coghlan said it was a mistake to make such comments on posters erected in the lead-up to last Friday's referendum.