The first day of a two-day debate on the economy has concluded in the Dáil.

Main developments
* €15bn in spending cuts and tax increases
* Plan to cut deficit to 3% of output
* Opposition briefed by Dept of Finance

20.21 Fianna Fáil TD and former junior minister John McGuinness said the debate was happening three years too late.

He said the only reason it was happening was because the IMF and European bodies are dictating the state of play regarding our economy.

Mr McGuinness also said he questioned the committment of political parties to enter into the neccessary actions needed to correct the economy.

He said 'political backbone' has been absent.

18.10 Fine Gael's Michael Ring told the Dáil that when Queen Elizabeth visits Ireland, possibly next year, we should hand control of the country back to her and tell her we are sorry for the mess we made of the country.

17.56 Opposition parties have continued to question the figures on which the Government based its call for €15 billion euro in cuts and tax increases.

'Financial statistics and economic projections emanating from the Department of Finance and the Central Bank have been so wide of the mark as to be worthless,' said Labour's Joe Costello.

17.30 'Sometimes to make a tree grow, the tree has to be pruned,' suggests Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív.

17.05 Minister Carey rejected the idea that a severe Budget would be an unfair Budget. The Minister said it was not the case that the last budget had targeted low income households.

It had, he said, resulted in modest income gains for less well-off households, while shaving 6% off the budget of wealthy households.

17.00 'All sectors of society will have to share the burden of the budgetary plan' says Pat Carey.

But the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs added that the Government does not want to 'squander' the strides made in tackling social inequality.

16.40 'The Government has spent the contents of many a housewife's purse and made no apology for it,' according to Fine Gael's Catherine Byrne.

16.28 Fine Gael's Transport Spokesman Simon Coveney says the Croke Park Agreement shows that even when the Government gets a policy right, it fails to execute it effectively.

16.09 'The Government must strike a delicate balance between the implementation of spending cuts and trying to promote growth.'

Mr Dempsey said the Government has been meeting twice weekly to look at all aspects of the budgetary plan.

16.05 Transport Minister Noel Dempsey says that the fiscal adjustment cannot be painless, but insisted that it is manageable.

15.40 Deputy Morgan said that the Government has hoping for a global recovery to occur so it could hang on to its coat-tails.

Mr Morgan added that even a global economic bounce would take 18 months to have a positive effect on the Irish economy and the unemployment crisis.

15.35 Sinn Féin's Arthur Morgan accuses Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and the Government of carrying out 'economic treason' over the past two years.

He added that Fianna Fáil and the Green Party no longer have any mandate to govern.

15.31 Deputy Burton said she is depressed by talk of a 'smart economy', without any sign of 'smart government'.

15.25 Deputy Burton labelled the current Government as 'pathetically stupid' and said Fianna Fáil's pervasive helplessness was killing the country.

Deputy Burton also likened Minister Lenihan to a gardener who, despite talk of green shoots, had not done the spade work for real growth.

15.13 Labour's Finance Spokesperson Joan Burton says Ireland's credibility on the bond markets can only be regained by a change of government.

15.00 Deputy Noonan said the 3% deficit target could be achieved by a €9bn adjustment.

He said FG was not buying into the €15bn figure announced by the Government.

'The Government's biggest problem is that no one believes them anymore and that credibility has been lost.'

'The dynamic of change must now take place.'

14.53 Responding to the minister, Fine Gael's finance spokesman said 'things are bad, people are down, depressed.'

'There's no growth, no hope and no economic plan.'

14.33 'If we delay action, the problems will not only remain but will get worse and the necessary decisions will become even harder to make and will have a more painful impact.'

'We cannot backtrack on the commitments that we have made to the EU Commission and to my EU Ministerial colleagues.'

14.25 Minister Lenihan says the upcoming budgetary plan will provide a 'pathway to sustainable increases in living standards.'

14.13 Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan is now addressing the Dáil

13.52 'It is now very clear that Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Fine Gael and the Labour Party stand together in their economic approach. They form a Consensus for Cuts,' says Sinn Féin

13.24 In response to the FG ministerial car proposal, RTÉ's David McCullagh says the political system needs to start showing that it is taking some of the pain as well.

13.18 Simon Coveney tells Sean O'Rourke on News At One that - if elected - Fine Gael would abolish the automatic right to ministerial cars. (listen)

13.15 The Dáil will resume 14.08

13.13 The Sinn Fein deputy said the Government now cares more about bondholders than it does about the citizens.

He said his party would be putting forward a six year economic plan - 'for the economy to grow, there must be investment.'

'Fianna Fáil led Governments are driven by greed and devoid of any vision for the Irish people.'

13.09 Sinn Féin's Caoimhin Ó Caoláin has warned of a 'conspiracy by political parties against the people'.

He warned that the Govt's plan to reduce the deficit to 3% by 2014 would be 'hugely damaging' and would worsen the recession

Mr Ó Caoláin called on the Government to abandon it.

13.04 Minister for Defence Tony Killeen will be live on RTÉ News At One shortly (listen)

12.45 The Green Party leader said trust has to be restored to politics and said changes must happen to the way ministers are transported, to the wages of politicians and to the working hours of Leinster House.

John Gormley also said the country needs some sort of consensus about how to fix the economy. He said he had not given up hope in achieving some sort consensual approach.

12.38 'Bord Snip has not produced any savings or reforms and he said a root and branch review of spending is necessary,' according to Mr Gilmore.

Mr Gilmore said the Government has no effective pay policy outside of the public service.

He said he favoured a return to social dialogue in a new format and that he would like to see a negotiated pay freeze for three years.

12.27 Watch this morning's Leaders' Questions programme, presented by Bryan Dobson

12.09 'One would have to be naive not to be sceptical about any figures that would come from this Government.'

'We need a strategy that puts in place reforms and creates jobs,' warns Mr Gilmore.

'We must have a multi annual approach to budgets and growth and jobs plan.'

12.07 On RTÉ News At One this afternoon, Brian Finn will be rounding up this morning's exchanges in the Dáil. (listen live from 13.00)

12.01 Mr Gilmore said the information given so far to the Opposition parties was incomplete.

He said in a document provided by government the answer to the question of growth was summed up in one word: confidence.

He said it 'wasn't a good idea to believe in such a tooth fairy.'

11.58 Opening his remarks, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore asked how credible was the €15 billion figure, when it comes from a source 'that has got every other prediction wrong'.

11.55 The FG leader said the fiscal plan needs to work in tandem with a job creation plan. He said FG had different policy to the Government, in this respect.

He said the country had got to this terrible point with 'bluff, untruth and incompetence' on the part of the government.

11.42 'There are no painless solutions to the problems, but there should be political consequences for the disastrous management by the Government.'

11.36 Enda Kenny said Ireland's credibility had been hammered by the failure of the Government.

'Not a single euro has been saved in respect of the Croke Park agreement.'

'Ireland stands at the edge of an economic abyss.'

He said the Government arrived in sleek transport at Farmleigh House, while saying they want to be fair.

11.35 Before the debate, the Irish Farmers Association said the Government can help stimulate economic growth in the Budget by supporting agriculture.

11.34 'Every single projection from the Government so far has been wrong, including the defecit and the NAMA figures,' says the FG leader.

11.31 'The Govt will not browbeat the Opposition into accepting the terms of plan,' warns Enda Kenny..

11.29 The Taoiseach 'had not made one concrete proposal in his presentation,' according to the Fine Gael leader.

Enda Kenny said the Government had no credibility and had no mandate.

11.23 Mr Cowen said an extension of the four-year plan was not a good idea. He said the plan would temporarily dampen growth, but the country will still borrow.

11.22 Brian Cowen said the forthcoming budget will be weighted more towards cuts in spending than tax increases.

11.20 The Taoiseach says the country is entering a crucial period that will shape the future and that if we make the wrong decisions the repercussions will be critical.

Brian Cowen said the gap between what Ireland makes and what it spends is too big.

He said, for example, he did not think he could protect every area of health services.

11.15 Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore objected to the Opposition parties not being sufficiently briefed on their visits to the Department of Finance.

Mr Gilmore said key information on growth forecasts for next year - and the following three years - and a template for the four-year plan had been omitted by the department in their briefings.

11.10 The Taoiseach said the Croke Park agreement was significant and the Government has no wish to back away from that agreement.

But that it could only work with total commitment to its terms.

11.07 Brian Cowen says the country has already come far in its efforts to deal with the crisis, with savings of over €14bn in just two years.

However, he warned that borrowings had increased and the State still faced a budgetary crisis.

11.01 The Taoiseach confirmed to the Dáil that the decision to seek €15 billion in adjustments over the next four years was taken by the Government.

Mr Cowen was responding to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny who asked if the target had been imposed by the European Commission.

Mr Kenny went on to ask the Taoiseach what level of cuts could be expected in December's budget but the Brian Cowen would not be drawn on this.

10.47 The full debate on the economy is due to begin following the Order of Business Watch live

10.45 The Taoiseach concludes a shorter than usual Leaders' Questions by stressing that the €15bn figure is just a forecast.

He confirmed that the decision to seek €15bn in adjustments over the next four years was taken by the Government.

Mr Cowen was responding to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny who asked if the target had been imposed by the European Commission.

Mr Kenny went on to ask the Taoiseach what level of cuts could be expected in December's Budget, but Mr Cowen would not be drawn on this.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore criticised the level of information provided by the Government on the economic and fiscal outlook, growth forecasts, the cost of the bank bailout and the proposed savings from the Croke Park Agreement.

10.40 Fine Gael Transport Spokesman Simon Coveney has criticised the Government's use of ministerial cars to attend the Cabinet meeting at Farmleigh House on Monday.

He said: 'The sight of every Cabinet member arriving in their own limousine, while preparing Ireland's worst ever Budget, sent out a clear message to the general public.

'It confirmed that this Government has lost all touch with reality, and fails to understand the need to lead by example in cost-cutting measures.'

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Mary Hanafin defended Ministers this morning in an interview on Morning Ireland.