Labour leader Brendan Howlin has called for an immediate countrywide ban on smoky coal.

The party will use a private members' motion to call for the ban, stating it has already been proven to work in many larger urban areas without legal challenge.

Previously, the Government stated there were indications that a number of coal firms would mount a legal challenge to such a ban.

Mr Howlin said this is about people's health.

"We regard it as entirely unacceptable - according to the EPA - up to 1,000 people are dying every year because of the burning of smoky coal in towns across the country."

He described the "extraordinary argument" from the Government that to complete a project that began 30 years ago would affect the burning of other fuels, such as timber or peat.

Mr Howlin questioned how the burning of coal in Wexford town could be unlawful, but legal 22km up the road in Enniscorthy.

He said if the coal industry wanted to mount a legal challenge to the banning of smoky coal it would have already happened.

He accused the Government of spurious arguments in relation to the issue and said Fine Gael was trying to draw back its rural credentials by mixing up the issues of turf burning.

The Labour leader said this was a "spat" between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton announced the smokey coal ban will be extended to all towns with populations over 10,000.

From September 2020, smoky coal will be banned in 13 additional towns including Enniscorthy.

In a statement, the minister said that the Government would not be proceeding with a nationwide ban due to a "serious risk of illegality, unless peat, turf and wet wood were also included".