A further refund on energy costs is likely to be the centre piece of Government's efforts to address rising prices.

The Government is also looking at possible changes to fuel allowance, along with cuts to some health-related charges.

The establishment of an emergency fund to help those struggling to pay energy bills is also under consideration.

The matter is expected be finalised at a meeting of the Cabinet Economic Committee next week.

It follows lengthy discussions, involving the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, with employers and unions to address the rising cost of living.

This evening, the Dáil debated the legislation to pave the way for the payment of €113.50 towards each household's electricity bill.

Minister of State Ossian Smyth told the House this was just one of a number of near and medium measures under consideration by Government.

Earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that Government leaders are working on a package of measures to address the issue.

He told the Dáil that the Government would finalise the package in the next few weeks.

Inflation and the increasing costs facing people were dominant issues in the Dáil this morning.

Describing it as a major crisis, Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty said rents are spiralling out of control and prices will continue to rise like never before.

The Donegal TD called for an additional €5 increase to core welfare rates and said the planned hike in carbon tax on 1 May must be stopped too.

Labour's Ged Nash accused the Government of generating hot air and engaging in faux outrage, but this would not help heat people's homes.

The Tánaiste accepted that people are feeling the squeeze and those on the lowest incomes are feeling it most.

Mr Varadkar warned that inflation is likely to continue for longer than anticipated and this requires action from Government.

Last night both Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Mr Varadkar signalled that the Government is going to take further actions to counter the rising cost of living.

Addressing the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, Mr Martin said the coalition Government is "conscious" about the rising cost of living, and how much of it is energy related.

He told his party's TDs, Senators and MEPs that they are examining "a range of measures", including reducing Government charges, in order to enable people to protect their disposable incomes.

Around the same time, Mr Varadkar told a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting that the planned €113 energy rebate "isn't enough" to counter rising energy prices.

He also mentioned the potential of lowering Government fees and charges - saying rising inflation and higher prices means more needs to be done to help families.

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Cost of living crisis takes centre stage in political debate

Last month, Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy told the Dáil that Ireland has a "cost of living crisis", saying those who are struggling are being forced to choose between heating their home and putting food on the table.

She said "huge" price hikes in the cost of food, transport, energy and insurance means that small increases in things like the minimum wage have been "eaten-up by inflation".

The annual rate of inflation hit a 20-year high in December 2021, with the CSO reporting a 5.5% rise.

The figures showed that diesel prices rose by 36% on an annual basis, while petrol prices increased by 32% and airfares were up 66%.

Prices for electricity were up 22.4% while gas was up 28%. The cost of home heating oil was up 53%.

Private sector rents were up 8.4%.

With additional reporting from Paul Cunningham