Taoiseach Enda Kenny has reiterated that no guidelines contained in the Personal Insolvency Arrangements would require any man or woman, to give up work.

Mr Kenny said he wanted to make it perfectly clear to everyone in the country, in particular women, that there would be no condition that anyone would have to give up a job.

Earlier, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Government had demonstrated incoherence on the matter.

He said there was a need for independent oversight of personal insolvency arrangements struck with the banks.

Meanwhile, the National Women's Council branded comments by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar as "disgraceful".

Minister Varadkar had said that childcare costs will have to be taken into account in insolvency arrangements if couples are unable to meet mortgage repayments.

Director of the NWC Orla O'Connor described the comments as "anti-women and anti-children".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, she said that the Government needed to make a clear statement that childcare costs would remain outside of the new personal insolvency regime.

Details of the scheme are due to be published in the coming weeks.

Minister Varadkar is the first Cabinet member to say childcare costs would have to be considered in this way.

However, he insisted that nobody would be asked to leave work, but conceded the new scheme would examine childminding bills in cases where such costs exceeded income.

Speaking in Dublin last night, he said it was a "legitimate" thing for women who are not earning big salaries to stay in work to maintain their career position.

But he said: "If you can't pay your mortgage as a result or you can't buy your groceries as a result, well then that's something that needs to be taken into account in any insolvency arrangement."

Ms O'Connor said the minister had caused stress and anxiety by his comments and said they "showed a lack of understanding" on his part of the struggle some families were facing.

She said: "Have we now reached a state in Ireland where saving our banks is more important than our children and the choices families are trying to make?

"Families every day in Ireland are making really difficult choices with regard to combining work and family life."

She said childcare costs in Ireland were among the highest in Europe and families were struggling to pay them.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik has described as extremely short-sighted any suggestion that someone should give up a job if childcare costs exceeded their income.

Speaking on the same programme, she said childcare costs, which were to do with pre-school care, were short-term costs.

In response to the criticism, Mr Varadkar has said he did not say that women need to choose between their career or mortgage repayments if they enter a new insolvency scheme.

In a statement this morning, he said: "The headline in the Irish Examiner today is not what I said.

That is a headline, not a quote, and it doesn't reflect my views.

He said that: "The quotes in the body of the article are accurate, however and that they confirm that I did say that the new insolvency service guidelines will have to be fair and that no one should have to give up their job."