The Government has won the vote on the broad principles of the Social Welfare Bill with no defections.

Labour Chairman Colm Keaveney supported the measure after earlier posting a message on social media network Twitter saying "alia iacta est," (the die is cast), leading to speculation about his intentions.

The Dáil has now adjourned for the night and TDs will vote tomorrow on the specific measures contained in the bill including cuts to children's allowance payments and carers' respite grants.

Earlier this evening a motion of confidence in the Government was passed by 88 votes to 51.

During today's Dáil session Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the initial Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in the Government as ill-founded and nonsensical.

Mr Kenny said Sinn Féin's pre-Budget submission was a con-job and that the party would tax the country back into recession.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the confidence motion was about exploiting the fiscal, banking and jobs crisis facing the country.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said many of the pre-election promises made by the Government had been dumped and confidence in the administration had gone.

She said the Government was Fianna Fáil in all but name and was submitting to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Labour TDs and Senators were critical of the Social Welfare Bill's provisions at a meeting of their parliamentary party this afternoon and the mood of many speakers was described as rueful and angry.

More than a dozen people spoke at the meeting, many of them expressing criticism of the effect of the Budget provisions on the party's credibility.

Introducing the controversial bill last night, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said no-one in Leinster House wanted to cut Child Benefit or the Respite Care Grant, but equally no department could be excluded from making savings.


Around 50 people protested earlier outside Leinster House calling for social welfare cuts to be reversed.

The group includes People Before Profit members and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, along with some non-affiliated demonstrators.

Some of the anger appears to be directed at the Labour Party, with placards saying "Labour are traitors" and "Shame on Labour".