The Taoiseach has said there will be modest, targeted welfare increases in next Tuesday's Budget.

Leo Varadkar said this Budget has to be different because of Brexit, adding that the country cannot afford tax and welfare packages on the scale of the last three years.

Overall the Taoiseach struck a cautious note about the Budget at the Fine Gael presidential dinner in Dublin, one of the party's biggest social events of the year.

However he insisted it would not be an austerity budget or that there would be cutbacks.

His speech was peppered with references to the next general election.

He said when that happens he said a Brexit deal will have been secured, or, if not, Fine Gael will have guided the country through the worst of a no-deal scenario. 

The Taoiseach told his party they can win that election, even though it may not become apparent until the last week of the campaign.


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There were pot shots too at other parties as he accused Fianna Fáil of fielding the same team since the 1990s, saying the party has failed to refresh itself.

Fine Gael's perspective government partners in the future, the Greens, were criticised too with the Taoiseach taking aim at Eamon Ryan's idea of re-introducing wolves in rural Ireland.


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Mr Varadkar said he would have thought the Greens' experience of being in government with Fianna Fáil would have warned them off dangerous predators.

However he said that he would sooner bring back the wolves than let Sinn Féin into Government.

On Brexit, the Taoiseach said the Government wants a deal and believes it is possible, but not at any cost.