Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has appealed to the Government to abandon what he termed a "badly designed levy" on concrete products which would "punish" first-time buyers and also push small building contractors "over the edge".

The Dáil was debating a Sinn Féin motion calling on the Government to immediately scrap the 10% concrete levy introduced in last week's Budget.

Mr Ó Broin told the Dáil that he does not believe the Government is going to "pursue those responsible" for the defective block saga. He said: "I hope you do, but I'm not going to hold my breath."

He appealed to the Government to work with the Opposition parties to broaden the focus of the levy and "ensure that industry pays its fair share."

The Sinn Féin TD argued the current proposal had "design flaws" - the proposed levy was too high; too narrowly focused; and is a levy on products.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Government would respond and assist people whose homes were crumbling due to Mica.

He added that there would also be help for those living with defective apartments.

However, he contended that Sinn Féin was continually calling on the government to spend more, but then continually opposing measures which would pay for it.

The Minister said many Sinn Féin deputies had spoken on the debate but hadn't addressed the specific issue as to how the levy could be improved.

Labour's Ged Nash and the Social Democrats Cian O'Callaghan and Holly Cairns also expressed their support for the Sinn Féin motion, as did Independent TD Sean Canney and others.

A vote on the motion has been deferred until tomorrow night.

Earlier, Mr Ó Broin's party leader said the levy would hit ordinary people in the pocket at a time of extraordinary costs.

Mary Lou McDonald said the Government has come along with a levy that will add thousands to the cost of a home.

Read more: Defective concrete products levy may add €3,000 to costs of building a house

She said the levy would put the burden on ordinary home buyers and not where it belongs, which is on the banks, those responsible for building defects in homes and apartments, and the profits of property developers.

Responding during Leaders' Questions, the Taoiseach accused Sinn Féin of "double think" and "the three card trick" in a manner akin to George Orwell's book '1984.'

He said Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty had welcomed the levy in his budget speech in the Dáil last week, while Mr Ó Broin had "ducked and weaved" on the issue in a interview on RTÉ's Morning Ireland this morning.

"You are making this up as you go along and I'll put it to you this way, god help us if you ever get near the national finances," Micheál Martin told the Sinn Féin leader.

Ms McDonald replied saying the Taoiseach's views resembled George Orwell's novel, 'Animal Farm,' in that his party's approach is one where "some are more equal than others."

'A bit rich'

Speaking on his way into a Cabinet meeting earlier, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath defended the levy and criticised Sinn Féin for backing the levy last week and opposing it this week.

"It is a bit rich of Sinn Féin to be coming forward with a motion in the Dáil this week," he said.

He said the move is "opportunistic" and accused the party of trying to drive a wedge within the Government.

"It's simply not going to work," he said.

Additional reporting: Mícheál Lehane, Karen Creed