The Tánaiste has said that he would like to see a reduction or deferral of planned increases in road tolls.

Last week it was announced by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) that from 1 January, toll charges on most toll roads around the country are to increase to their "maximum level".

The price hikes are linked to the current rate of inflation, which has increased by 8.6% between August 2021 and August 2022.

The tolls cannot be increased beyond this rate.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programmme, Leo Varadkar said that the Government was not aware of the plan in advance of the announcement by TII.

However, he said the office of the Minister for Transport was aware.

Mr Varadkar said he was not happy with the increases and that they are coming at a really bad time.

He also said that the hikes were planned to the maximum tolls that could be charged, but he added that the TII is not obliged to charge those rates.

2023 home building targets 'at risk'

Mr Varadkar has admitted that the Government targets for home building next year "are at risk".

He said delivering more than the 30,000 homes under Housing for All in 2023 is "going to be a challenge".

Speaking on The Week in Politics on RTÉ One, he said the targets for this year will be exceeded, with close to 28,000 properties being built.

"16,000 individuals and couples bought their first home in the last year, that's more than any year in 15," he added.

Mr Varadkar said "there is light at the end of the tunnel", but he added that "we have not yet turned the corner".

"We have to do everything we can in the next couple of months and over the next two years to make sure that we accelerate more housing construction."

Mr Varadkar said he absolutely acknowledges that "more needs to be done on housing".

He said he is "determined next year and the year after to make sure that we drive that forward that we implement and accelerate housing for all."

"I'm absolutely determined that we do that, that we see even more first-time buyers buying their first home next year.

"We want to see well above 15,000 a year and that we build more than 30,000 new homes next year and it's going to be a challenge but that's what we have to do, we have to work together to make that happen."

"I think what we can have is stronger Government interventions to help close the viability gap."

Asked if that included more tax breaks, he said: "That is only one option."

Mr Varadkar has again ruled out the possibility of Fine Gael going into coalition with Sinn Féin in the future.

Ahead of his return to the Taoiseach's office next month, Mr Varadkar said that the two parties are incompatible.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has said it will bring a motion to the Dáil next week to declare a housing emergency.

The party's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said the "housing crisis is devastating people’s lives".

He added: "This Government has shown time and time again that it is incapable of getting to grips with the housing crisis. In the meantime, ordinary people across the state pay the price.

"Whole generations are locked out of home ownership, paying sky high rents while house prices soar and the dream of home ownership slips further out of reach."

Additional reporting Fergal O'Brien