Taoiseach: Budget supports will 'protect people' from energy disconnections

Opposition calls for immediate ban on disconnections to ensure the most vulnerable households are protected
Taoiseach: Budget supports will 'protect people' from energy disconnections

Micheál Martin suggested opposition TDs were being 'too dismissive' of the "extraordinary measures" that were included in the budget.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said budget supports will "protect people" from gas and electricity disconnection this winter.

It comes amid opposition calls for an immediate ban on disconnections to ensure the most vulnerable households are protected.

Mr Martin told the Dáil the Government had intervened with "substantial" budget supports such as a double child benefit payment, a once-off living alone allowance bonus payment and increases in social welfare rates.

He suggested opposition TDs were being "too dismissive" of the "extraordinary measures" that were included in the budget.

"If we didn't have all those measures, I would accept the point that there could be disconnection."

Mr Martin dismissed a call from People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy to nationalise the energy sector in Ireland.

Mr Murphy said the Taoiseach had promised that pre-paid customers "will not be cut off" over the weekend, however, he was now saying these households "should not be cut off".

"Which on is it? You are the Taoiseach, you have the power to prevent disconnections. Instead what you're actually saying today is 'these people have gotten enough money, sure it will be their own fault if they run out and they are not able to put money in the meter'.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said an immediate ban on disconnections should be extended until the end of March.

"People are now under severe pressure, the energy credits announced in your budget are already being gobbled up.

"From this week, Electric Ireland customers face a price hike of 38% for electricity, while Bord Gáis customers are hit with a massive increase of 45% and other energy companies will also hike the prices this month. 

"Your refusal to cap electricity bills at pre-crisis levels has left people are wide open to these further hikes. So in reality, and despite your assurances at the weekend, households struggling to pay their bills remain in danger of disconnection."

Mr Martin agreed the energy emergency "needs more than words" and this is why the Government rolled out a series of supports and payments as part of the budget.

But he said: "We are facing the worst global energy crisis since the 1970s, caused by Russia's unprovoked war with the people of Ukraine.

"You can not make it go away magically. It's dishonest in the middle of a terrible crisis, to pretend that there is no war, or the war doesn't have an impact," the Taoiseach told Ms McDonald.

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