The Dáil returned from the three-week Christmas break this afternoon for a session dominated by the nation's finances.

TDs and Senators were welcomed back by protests over education cutbacks outside Leinster House.

The Oireachtas Finance Committee also began hearings this afternoon on the controversy over pensioners' tax liabilities.

The Seanad was also back this afternoon and will discuss suicide prevention and the needs of small businesses.

Later, the Dáil debated a Sinn Féin private members' motion on cuts to support for disadvantaged schools.

Elsewhere, campaigners against the household and water charges have launched a lo-call national hotline to help coordinate anti-household charge groups around the country - 1890 989800.