The European Commission has thrown its weight behind criticisms of Irish budget policy made by the Fiscal Advisory Council last autumn.  

In an unpublished report on the Irish economy, the Commission said that while the budget complies with EU rules, increases in spending and fiscal projections for the next five years give rise to what it calls "some concern".

But the Director of the Economic and Social Research Council has said that the European Commission's report on the Irish economy and Government policy was overstating the point by claiming the country's economic recovery has been put at risk.

Alan Barrett , a former member of the Fiscal Advisory Council, said there would always be uncertainty around issues such as corporation tax. 

He said that there are good and bad ways of doing fiscal policies and while the budget complied with the fiscal rules, it did not engage with the spirit of the law.

Meanwhile, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said the Government adopted a very prudent approach in the last budget. 

Mr Bruton said the facts speak for themselves, with the economy growing 14% in the three years to 2016, but spending only rising 4%

He said the spending increase has been very prudently within what is affordable by the economy, with tax revenue forecast to grow 18% in that period.

He added that every budget the current Government has brought in has comfortably beaten the target set for it by the European Commission.

That, he said, is in sharp contrast to previous governments which approached elections with a 20% increase in spending two years in a row.

Asked about the Labour childcare plan, Mr Bruton said childcare was an important element in this year's budget. 

He said everyone recognises the need to improve childcare provision in order to retain talent in the marketplace. 

Early childcare provision was expanded in the budget to the age of three, he said, and there is no doubt that Fine Gael will have ambition to build on that.

He said the key to doing that is to have a strong economy to allow investment in the sector.

Fine Gael will present its own manifesto in due course he said, adding that developing a strong childcare sector would be at the heart of it also.