Thousands have protested in Dublin city centre against the Government's wind energy and pylons policy.

Organisers claim up to 4,000 people attended the march, which began at the Garden of Remembrance and ended outside Leinster House.

The protest was organised by Wind Aware Ireland, a new group combined of organisations against pylons and overhead power cables and those opposed to wind farms. 

With increasing alarm over climate change in recent weeks, Ireland's energy policy is under scrutiny like never before.

The matter is of acute political significance in many parts of the country as the Local Elections approach.

News that a wind energy export deal with Britain was off the table has done little to reduce concerns.

Environmental campaigners are calling for the Government to encourage communities to take ownership of future wind energy plans.

Meanwhile, the Government has set a tentative date of later this year for publishing its Climate Bill.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin earlier said that Ireland faces particular challenges with regard to reducing its carbon footprint.

But, he said, Ireland needs a robust response to the issue of climate change.

Mr Howlin said Ireland's agriculture sector would pose a challenge as it was not as intensive as others.

He said he believed that Ireland would hit its target of 40% renewable energy by 2020.

While there might be resistance in some sectors to this, he said, if people looked at the recent reports on climate change they would reflect that we need to do things differently.

The minister said that the Government is obliged to submit budget costings to the EU in April, but this was predicated on last year's projections.

He said there were recent signs of new economic activity in the first quarter with more jobs, but the Government was currently working on last year's projection of 2% growth.

He said there might be more growth than expected but the Government needed to be prudent.