TDs, senators and their staff should be vaccinated so they can return to work at Leinster House, according to Senator Michael McDowell.
The former tánaiste says he's "demanding" a clear roadmap for a return to full operations of the Oireachtas, even if vaccinating all staff would be an unpopular move.
He suggests complex legislation is being rushed through the Dáil and Seanad as a result of ongoing restrictions.
Leinster House has been operating at a limited capacity since the pandemic began, and full Dáil sittings have been taking place at the Convention Centre rather than the usual chamber.
Senators, meanwhile, have frequently had to sit in the Dáil chamber and the Convention Centre due to capacity issues around the Seanad chamber.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Senator McDowell said the public "isn't being told how badly" the Dáil and Seanad are operating at the moment.
He said ‘guillotine’ rules being used to push through complex pieces of legislation in just a matter of hours, and normal time limits around scrutinising legislation have been “swept away”.
He said: “If the Dáil sits, the Seanad can’t sit. If the Dáil wants to spend more times in a week looking at something, the Seanad has to vacate those days completely.
“All the regulations under the health acts - which govern our lives in the most minute details… they got absolutely no line-by-line scrutiny by anyone in Leinster House.”
Senator McDowell said the current approach is simply not acceptable - arguing that the Government is "ruling by decree".
As a result, he wants to see TDs, senators and all Leinster House staff vaccinated as soon as possible so normal operations can resume.
He said: “At the expense of unpopularity, I believe we should stand up on behalf of everyone in Ireland to say the functioning of our parliament is an essential service.
“We should say we want to actually scrutinise the legislation by which we are demanding our citizens live.
“TDs and senators would be accused of queue-jumping if they say ‘we’re so important we need to be vaccinated in order to do our jobs’... I’m conscious of that.
“But by the time we reach July, the great majority of TDs, senators and their staff… will in fact be fully vaccinated. Only a minority of younger people in the complex won’t be."
He added that what he wants above all is a "clear roadmap back to full operation of the Oireachtas".
He said that means getting back to a point where both houses can discuss, consider and examine every piece of legislation "completely and constitutionally".