The latest figures for the number of people sleeping rough have been described as "very disappointing" by the Taoiseach.

Latest figures from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive show there was an increase to 156 from 110 from the count in spring.

While that figure is an increase from spring it represents a 15% decrease on winter 2017, when a record 184 people were found to be sleeping rough.

Speaking in the Dáil, Leo Varadkar said while the figures are not the highest compared to a year ago or four years ago, it is an increase on the last count.

He said €60 million was made available in the budget to ensure people have emergency accommodation this Christmas.

The Sinn Féin leader said Fine Gael had presided over a housing and homelessness crisis over the past seven years.

Mary Lou McDonald said thousands protested at the weekend with a message that the Government needed to "change tack" in relation to the housing and homelessness crisis in an "imaginative, decisive and brave manner".

She called on the Government to introduce a three-year rent freeze and to adopt what is called the Focus amendment.

Read more: Peter McVerry Trust worked with record number in 2017

The Taoiseach said the first five years of Fine Gael's time in Government was spent in getting the country back on track and dealing with the "enormous levels of unemployment".

He said rent tax relief was not something the Government is supporting because it is seeking to give income tax back to all workers and not just to people who are renting.

Govt accused of lacking urgency over homelessness

Meanwhile, Labour's Jan O'Sullivan has accused the Government of a lack of urgency in relation to tackling homelessness.

Ms O'Sullivan raised concerns that some families may be asked to leave hotels during the Christmas.

She said her Bill to oblige local authorities to provide accommodation for children who are homeless is still waiting to go through committee stage - one year after it passed second stage in the Dáil.

Senator Kevin Humphreys also stated that the proposed new legislation on registers for the rent pressure zones has still not been introduced in the Dáil, two years after the pressure zones were introduced.