The Taoiseach has told the Dáil that Budget 2022 contained the "largest package of income support in a decade" and underpins "decisive investment" in housing and education.

Addressing Opposition criticism that the measures didn't go far enough, Micheál Martin said that any further significant borrowing, with interest rates expected to increase "would be manifestly unsustainable."

Instead, he contended, Ministers Donohoe and McGrath had "ensured a balanced approach" but still delivered "an ambitious budget."

On Covid-19, the Taoiseach said the pandemic had ensured that 10,000 houses were not built and hospital waiting lists increased, but any "honest review" of recent months had to note the scale and pace of job creation.

He warned that the Government needed to "avoid complacency" and he said there are "still too many adults not fully vaccinated", adding the pandemic has not gone away and "we all need to be careful."

In another stinging attack on Sinn Féin, the Taoiseach contended that "political cynicism and opportunism" defined its role in Irish politics.

He argued Sinn Féin has promised "everything to everyone" but "without the slightest intention" of delivering on those promises.

The Taoiseach said the party had both demanded Covid-19 restrictions and attacked restrictions "... depending on who the audience was."

He said their Dáil contributions alternated between "aggression and abuse".

Mr Martin argued that Sinn Féin's contention that higher levels of borrowing can be sustained in the current climate is "deeply wrong" and based on a "false premise."

Instead, he said the Government recognised that resources were finite and the tough decisions would be targeted that limited support at those who needed it most.

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he believes most people will be better off as a result of Budget 2022.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said the Budget was fundamentally about putting the public finances back in order, helping in some way with the rising cost of living, investing in public services and throwing a lifeline to businesses who need it.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Varadkar said that those on the minimum wage will benefit from the 30 cent per hour increase in wages, as well as from changes to the Universal Social Charge threshold, childcare subsidies and medical charge changes.

"It will make a difference at least in terms of the struggle to meet the rising cost of living, which is such a real thing for so many families," he said.

Mr Varadkar said that the income tax deduction amounting to 30% of vouched expenses for heat, electricity and broadband incurred while working from home has "been retained and trebled, which isn't a small thing".

He said that while measures in the Budget will not lower existing rates of rent, it will amount to a rent freeze in real terms next year.

The Tánaiste said that along with the Help to Buy scheme, the Budget will do something for the needs of all householders.

The alternative tax credit proposed by some in opposition would only help those struggling to pay rent, he added.

Mr Varadkar described as "unfair" claims that the Budget has spread money too thinly in too many directions.

The new 3% Zoned Land Tax (based on market price of land) to encourage the use of land for building homes is fundamentally different to the vacant site levy, he said, adding that this will measure will apply to around 8,000 hectares of land in the country.

"We're saying to them: "You're on notice. You have two years to get planning permission on that land and get building on that land"."


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While highlighting that he was the Minister for Health who brought in free GP care for under 6s, the Tánaiste said the Government "hasn't been able to make a huge amount of progress on the issue since".

He said the scheme will now be extended for another two years and GPs will be paid the fee they currently receive for children aged five and under.

Mr Varadkar said other budgetary measures, including changes to the maximum amount someone will pay for approved prescribed medicine under the Drugs Repayment Scheme, is "very much Sláintecare in action".

The Tánaiste said free contraception to women aged 17-25 is just one part of a women's health strategy, adding that the Government has taken action on period poverty and investment in the national maternity strategy.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has said that the amount of money his department spends on roads is "going to start to reduce" because "the number of public transport projects is starting to rise dramatically".

He told the Dáil that the €35bn allocated to transport in the National Development Plan up to the year 2030 had to be spent in a ratio of 2:1 in favour of public transport over roads.

The Green Party leader said his department would still be spending a lot of money on roads - "€1.4bn or so" - but the strategy behind the allocations had changed.

He said he was "proud" of the Green Party for "delivering again this year".