Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has announced a one-week extension to the winter fuel allowance.

Ms Burton said she made the decision based on the very bad weather and denied it had anything to do with the by-election in Meath East today.

The fuel allowance is paid for 26 weeks over the coldest months of the year, from October to April, and final payments were due to be paid in the first week of April.

Ms Burton said it was being announced today as the IT systems in her department need this time to ensure the extra week's payment goes through automatically.

The minister also said it was not a reflection on the decision to cut the allowance in the first place as Ireland pays the allowance for the longest period in Europe.