Prominent Catholic campaigners have urged the Government to increase taxes on wealth in tomorrow's Budget in order to protect the most vulnerable.

Sister Stanislaus Kennedy urged ministers not to cut the services for those suffering most or payments like child benefit and medical cards.

And Fr Tony O'Riordan urged a critical examination of tax incentives for the rich.

Addressing transition year students in Naas yesterday, Sister Stan agreed tough Government measures were justified by extremely difficult circumstances.

However, she noted that even before the recession 11% of children here were consistently poor. And she predicted more real hardship as unemployment rises.

Maintaining that the poor should not have to pay for the arrogance and greed of the few, she urged ministers not to cut their services or schemes such as child benefit or medical cards.

She said it would be fairer to increase taxes on the wealthy.

Her call was echoed by Fr O'Riordan launching the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice website to record cutbacks in frontline services.

He urged a critical examination of the very costly array of tax incentive schemes, mainly benefiting the well-off, and the retention only of those shown to be essential to economic and social development.

He urged that increases in indirect taxes be targeted on non-essential items since they impact most on the least well-off.