Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has given a stout defence of the carbon tax, arguing it is a solution to the spike in energy prices, following criticism of the measure yesterday by Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty who described it as a "con job".

Mr Ryan, who is Minister for Transport, Climate, Environment and Communications, said it was "the right thing to do" and "criticial" when it came to delivering on emissions reduction targets, adding that the revenue "goes straight back to the people".

He told the Dáil the carbon tax was "progressive" in that it ensures that people on lower incomes benefit the most.

Of the €9.5 billion projected to be raised by the carbon tax over the next nine years, the minister said: "€3bn will go to social protection; €5bn will go to the retrofitting; and €1.5bn to farmers."

Mr Ryan said the carbon tax was "the only protection" when it came to reducing Ireland's dependence on fossil fuels as it would lead to an improvement in the efficiency of those homes via retrofitting.

He rhetorically asked the Sinn Féin benches: "Where is the alternative? Where does that €9bn come to give to our poorest people? Where does the €5bn for retrofitting come from if it does not come from the carbon tax?"

Yesterday's Budget announcement confirmed an increase of €7.50 per tonne in carbon tax to €41.

The Finance Act 2020 provided for annual increments in the levy of that amount every year out to 2030.

The Programme for Government commits to additional spending of €9.5bn raised through increases in the carbon tax from 2021 to 2030.

In July, Ireland made a commitment in law to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a 51% reduction in 2018 emission levels by 2030.

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Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Mr Ryan said the Government Government will continue to do whatever it can to help people through this Winter, ahead of an expected fuel crisis.

He said the European Commission is coming out with recommendations that Governments can look at today, to further protect their citizens.

Meanwhile Labour Party leader, Alan Kelly, warned the Dáil that "a winter of discontent lies ahead".

"Soaring prices and supply chain problems" are the key driving factors, he said.

Mr Kelly added that the State pension needed to increase by more than €9 in the Budget to keep apace with inflation. In the Budget announced yesterday, it was announced that there would be a €5 increase in the main weekly welfare payments and State pension, including young jobseeker's allowance.

Mr Kelly also said that "the health budget is a masterpiece of distraction".

The Labour Party leader said it was "a confetti budget" as it was spread so thinly.

He accused the Government of wasting an historic opportunity.