The Irish government has survived a vote in the upper house of parliament on the general principles underlying its proposed university reforms.
The vote followed publication of a discussion document in which education minister Niamh Bhreathnach modified earlier proposals for new governing structures and controls over spending and staff appointment.
The minister briefed the six senators who represent university graduates. One of them, Shane Ross, who had threatened to defy his party whip, was personally assured by the Taoiseach (premier) John Bruton just before the senate debate that the proposals were not "cast in stone". The six voted with the government but Senator Ross warned that when the detailed legislation came before the house he would vote against it if it contained unacceptable provisions.
In particular, he rejected the suggestion that the government would have the right to suspend university governing bodies this, he said, was in breach of the charter granted to Trinity College Dublin by Elizabeth I more than 400 years ago.
He was also unhappy with some of the proposals for control over spending and appointments.