One of the toughest budgets in the history of the State is set to be approved by the Irish parliament later today.
The 2011 budget which will be delivered by Brian Lenihan this afternoon will involve almost $8 billion in adjustments laid out between the Government, the European Union and the International Monetary fund and will mark the first installment of the four-year National Recovery Plan.
The budget is expected to introduce substantial tax increases and welfare cuts. Latest reports suggest that the Prime Minister will take a pay cut of $18,000 and salaries of Government Ministers are also expected to take a hit. Reform of the use of State cars will also be included and one of the two Government jets will be disposed of.
A cap on salaries in the public service and in semi-State bodies will also be adopted.
Some relief for homeowners, as those in negative equity who find themselves in arrears on their mortgage will not be required to pay stamp duty if they trade down.
Other key elements include a reduction of around 10 percent in tax credits and lowering income tax bands.
Social welfare payments are expected to take a cut of 5 percent.
The State pension is not expected to be reduced but an elimination of some tax advantages for pensioners is expected.
A five percent cut in public service pensions and up to nine percent for those at the top of the scale is expected.
Child benefit will be cut by $13 (€10) a month for the first and second child in the family and a cut of $26 (€20) for subsequent children.
Registration fees will increase to $2665 (€2000) for third-level colleges.
An increase in the excise duty on petrol is likely.
Stamp duty will be abolished for those downsizing.
Prior to the delivery of the harsh budget, a man was arrested in Dublin this morning following a protest outside Leinster House.
According to the latest reports the man drove a cherry picker crane up to the gates of Leinster House at around 7.20am this morning. The man proceeded to hoist himself up in the bucket of the crane. The control panel was dismantled so police were unable to bring they protester back to ground level.
The crane was covered with a number of placards attacking politicians and the banking sector.
After well over an hour the man surrendered and was lowered down and arrested by police.
Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, who was voted the worst finance minister in Europe by the Financial Times yesterday, is expected to deliver the 2011 budget at around 3pm this afternoon.