Taoiseach Brian Cowen has insisted that yesterday's Budget was well received internationally and at home.

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Arriving at the EU Summit in Brussels, Mr Cowen said there was a need to show the international community that the Irish people could handle their own affairs and 'do whatever was necessary to stabilise the deficit.'

He conceded there were many aspects of the budget which adversely affected people, but he said there was a recognition that 'a job needed to be done.'

The Taoiseach described the budget as part of 'a multi annual strategy' to get Ireland's budget deficit back to 3% of GDP by 2014 as required by eurozone members.

The Taoiseach said the borrowing requirement would be €18.8bn next year.

Labour has threatened a campaign of parliamentary obstruction to delay the passage of the social welfare bill.

Labour Party Whip Emmet Stagg described the measure as a nasty and vindictive piece of legislation.

He said the government intended to force it through with its numerical majority and the only way the bill could be delayed was by parliamentary tactics.

Mr Stagg disrupted the start of the second stage of the bill this evening by claiming the ministers' speaking time had expired and subsequently calling a quorum, a device to force Government backbenchers into the chamber.

Opposition parties earlier objected to plans to have legislation cutting social welfare passed by the Dáil before the weekend.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the timing was designed to ensure that none of the Government TDs 'wobble over the weekend when they meet constituents'.

He said there were six TDs on the Government side not subject to a whip, who could vote as they pleased on the issue - Independents Jackie Healy Rae, Michael Lowry and Noel Grealish, and Jim McDaid, Jimmy Devins and Eamon Scanlon, who are at present outside the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

He said whatever excuse there was for TDs subject to a party whip, there was none for them.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny described the Social Welfare Bill as one of 'gross, unwarranted unfairness' which he said should not be 'bulldozed' through the House this evening.

He appealed to Taoiseach Brian Cowen to allow further debate on the bill next week to give people time to consider the implications.

Mr Gilmore proposed that the Dáil debate the second stages of both the Social Welfare Bill and the bill giving effect to public sector pay this week, and that the final stages be debated next week.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin described the Social Welfare Bill as an emigration bill for those up to 24-years-old. He repeated that the bill was being rushed through to facilitate the conscience and nerve of Fianna Fáil backbenchers and the Greens.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan earlier defended his Budget, saying it was not an easy one for anybody but that it would pave the way for growth in the second half of next year.

Appearing on RTÉ's Today With Pat Kenny, Minister Lenihan was criticised by a number of callers for the measures he introduced.

The Taoiseach said the people expected the Government to get on with its business and get the country back to recovery.

He said the financial situation was such that there had to be a contribution from the social welfare sector.

The Taoiseach added that the Government and those supporting the Government were 'four square' behind the need to take action.

The Government proposes to have the social welfare legislation introduced this afternoon, with debate adjourning at 11pm tonight, a vote on the second stage at 1pm tomorrow afternoon, and a vote on the Committee and remaining stages at 6.30pm tomorrow evening.

Grealish will support Govt Budget vote

Independent West Galway TD Noel Grealish has said he will be supporting the Government in today's Budget votes.

Mr Grealish told RTÉ News he had taken the decision following a further meeting with Taoiseach and Government Chief Whip Pat Carey at Leinster House last night.

The meeting lasted for about 30 minutes.

Deputy Grealish said he had received firm guarantees of Government support for a number of issues which were of concern to him in the West Galway constituency.

These included the provision of a bypass road for the traffic accident blackspot village of Claregalway, an aid package for flood victims in the area and the acceleration of work on a number of school projects.

Deputy Grealish said he would be having a further meeting with officials this morning and would be outlining his reason for supporting the Government later today.