Sinn Féin is considering tabling a motion of no confidence in the Government next week before the Dáil goes into recess.

It comes after the Government lost its majority in the Dáil last night.

The Government now has 79 TDs, which is one short of what is required for a clear majority.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that her party is considering putting forward the motion and "will make a final call tomorrow".

The deadline for submitting such a motion is 11am tomorrow.

"So, we will meet tomorrow morning, and we will take a decision on a confidence motion, but as we speak today, yes, it's under active consideration," Ms McDonald said.

Speaking at the Ringsend Irishtown Community Centre in Dublin, as the party launched a policy document on affordable childcare, Ms McDonald said that "the appetite for change that was so evident in the last general election has not gone away", and that people "have run out of patience" with the Government.

"The sooner we have a change in Government, the better," she said.

Ms McDonald called on Independents who vote with the Government to "stop, stop doing it. This is a bad Government ... we need a change in direction that is manifestly obvious."

Ms McDonald said that her party is election ready.

"Whenever an election happens be very sure that we will be ready," she said.

The Government insisted it has a working majority in the Dáil after Donegal TD Joe McHugh resigned the Fine Gael Party whip.

Mr McHugh said he made his decision with a heavy heart when he voted against the Defective Concrete Blocks Bill.

He believed the bill, aiming to provide redress for homeowners whose properties were built with these blocks, had too many shortcomings.

However, the Dáil still passed the legislation with 74 TDs voting in favour and 69 against.

Sinn Féin 'playing politics' - minister

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien described Sinn Féin's move as "predictable".

Speaking to reporters in Dublin this afternoon, he said: "I'm quite happy to debate confidence in the Government with Sinn Féin next week if they believe that the most important issue that should be debated in the last sitting week of the Dáil is a political stunt by way of a motion of no confidence

"That's fine, but I'll be using my time to pass legislation next week ... We're doing real work, not playing politics."

The Tánaiste told the Fine Gael parliamentary party it was regrettable that Mr McHugh could not vote with the Government.

Leo Varadkar said he was confident the Donegal TD would vote with them on other issues.

He said too that the Government would continue to have a working majority and it had not come close to losing a vote.

That trend continued last night when the Dáil approved a Government motion on Ireland's participation in Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) projects with 78 TDs in favour and 61 against.

Meanwhile, a group of up to 30 Fianna Fáil backbench TDs and Senators met yesterday to discuss party and policy issues.

Dublin North-West TD Paul McAuliffe described the meeting as positive.

In a tweet afterwards, he said "the group aims to complement the party's role in Government and to strengthen the identity of Fianna Fáil. Members have agreed to meet again".

Some of those who attended said the party's poll ratings were discussed, but there was not any criticism of the Taoiseach and party leader.

They added that the group wants to ensure Fianna Fáil's role in Government policies and decisions are communicated.

The group believes that its regular parliamentary party meetings are too structured and a wider debate was required.

Those who attended said Fianna Fáil ministers were not excluded from the gathering but they would be too busy to attend.

Minister for Sport Jack Chambers said the meeting "was not secret".

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, he said that he "happened to be there prior to the meeting commencing because I was organising the full parliamentary party meeting, which happens later that evening.

"It wasn't secret, if it was secret, it wouldn't have been held in our parliamentary party room."