Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has said his party will make Government TDs vote "line by line" on the controversial measures in the Social Welfare Bill.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are opposing the Government's plans to pass the Bill by Friday.

Fianna Fáil says it will force votes on the cuts to Child Benefit and the Respite care grant, as well as the hike in PRSI and the reduction in the Farm Assist Programme.

Mr Martin said this is an opportunity for Government TDs to act in good conscience and vote against the Budget.

Sinn Féin has put forward various amendments to the Social Welfare Bill, among them a Social Welfare amnesty that the party says would save the State €55m.

The amnesty would be for people whose Social Welfare payments have been overpaid and who come forward to admit the anomaly.

Fianna Fáil's Willie O'Dea accused the Government of making a choice not to tax the rich but to take from the poor instead.

He said this was a decision of the Government's own making and was not imposed on them by the Troika.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that the Social Welfare Bill was full of "sleveen cuts" and he urged Government TDs to act on their integrity and vote against it.

Carers stage protest over cuts to respite grant

Earlier today, more than 250 family carers gathered outside Leinster House to protest over cuts to the Respite Care Grant announced in last week's Budget.

They are demanding a reversal of the 19% cut in their payment, which amounts to a loss of almost €400 a year.

The Carers Association says its members provide 900,000 hours of daily care to their loved ones, saving the State €4bn a year.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said that he sees no reason for tweaking any cuts in this year's Budget, including the cut to the carers respite allowance.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Varadkar said he felt it was pointless rowing back on cuts this year, only to impose them again next year.

"You know we have another, at least one more, tough budget to go, so there will have to be further cutbacks in social welfare spending next year.

"So I don't really see any point in tweaking something only to impose it again next year."

He said the alternative would have been to have made cuts across the board.

The minister that would have meant cutting the dole, for example, and it would have meant cutting the pension and increasing income taxes in order to raise sufficient money from people on relatively low pay.