Last Thursday evening I spoke to a rural Government TD as they travelled home after the fractious opening two days of the new Dáil term.

The conversation was not punctuated by multiple references to the confidence motion in Simon Coveney or President Michael D Higgins' decision to decline an invitation from Armagh.

There was little angst either at the dramatic departure of Marc MacSharry from the Government benches, as he sailed out of the arms of the coalition on a wave of highly charged language.

Yet there was profound worry voiced by this TD and no shortage of politically cataclysmic predictions to boot.

Chief among them was the rather startling view that the Government would fall around Budget day on 12 October.

The logic fuelling this was that carbon tax increases (which are politically agreed and legally binding) coupled with rapidly rising energy costs will prove too much for some Government TDs to accept.

That opinion is admittedly on the more exaggerated side of political thinking right now.

However, there is growing concern within the coalition that the combination of carbon taxes and energy cost hikes pose a major political challenge.

Even those prone to reticence and understatement privately admitted this weekend that this is the area where the Budget could get into difficulty.

On RTÉ's The Week in Politics, Joe O'Brien, the Green Party Junior Minister, said the origins of the problem stemmed from a major geopolitical issue.

"Russia is turning down the tap in the flow of gas into Europe and that is the main reason people could be facing potentially very large energy bills over the winter," he said.

To combat this, the minister said officials from several Government departments are now planning for what he described as a "very real situation that's coming down the track".

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath also singled out rising fuel costs when speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme.

He made his comments in the context of an awareness across Government of the difficulties facing people due to the rising cost of living.

The inference seems to be that a significant amount of money is going to have to be set aside in the Budget to alleviate fuel poverty.

However, if these measures are viewed to be in any way inadequate then the Government faces a turbulent winter.


Public services a priority in Budget 2022 - McGrath