A FIANNA Fail health spokesperson who demanded an emergency recall of the Seanad to discuss organ donation was on holidays today as the debate took place.
Senator Marc MacSharry decided to go ahead with a family holiday in Portugal despite arguing for the Upper House to be recalled early.
He was one of 20 senators who signed a petition for the emergency recall in order to debate an EU directive on organ donation.
His absence is proving an embarrassment for Fianna Fail, although Fine Gael and Labour have admitted difficulty in ensuring their members attended.
Defending his decision to continue with his holiday, Mr MacSharry told the Herald that the trip had been booked for quite some time.
"I go away for the same 10 days every year for a family holiday," he said.
"One would have preferred to be there but it is just not possible. I completely support the idea of recalling the Seanad as this is an utterly important issue so I fully support the fact that this is being brought up."
The Sligo politician said he believed the sitting would be scheduled earlier in the week.
The controversy comes after a weekend poll showed that the public may vote to retain the Seanad in the upcoming referendum. A political group opposed to its abolition claimed last night there is now a major shift in public opinion against "a knee-jerk" eradication of the upper house.
Democracy Matters (DM) has demanded that the Government publish all reports on the Seanad's operations and costs so voters can make an informed referendum choice.
The group also warned that the failure to include a critical third 'reform option' on the ballot represents a major strategic mistake. On October 4 voters will only be asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' to the Seanad's retention.
Democracy Matters staged a public meeting in Cork last night to galvanise opposition to the abolition of the Seanad.
The lobby group hailed as "very significant" the fact that the latest opinion poll indicated 37pc of voters favoured abolishing the Seanad.