Crazy that government increased Home Heating Oil costs during cost-of-living emergency – Matt Carthy TD
Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has described the decision by government to proceed with another carbon tax hike on Sunday last as crazy. He said: “It is beyond maddening that, in the midst of a cost-of-living emergency, government have increased the cost of home heating oil and other fuels through a carbon tax hike. This is not climate action – it’s just making peoples lives harder. The definition of out-of-touch.”
Last week Sinn Féin had brought a motion to the Dáil which called for the increase to be halted. That motion also sought for all excise on Home Heating oil to be lifted during the current price crisis. The motion also responded to government’s attempts to ban the sale of turf, a proposal described by Sinn Féin as unfair, unworkable and counter-productive. The Sinn Féin motion was voted down by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party TDs.
During the debate, Deputy Carthy criticised the fact that not a single back-bench government TD attended the discourse or spoke on the motion.
He told the Dáil:
“For the purposes of clarification, let me be clear that Sinn Féin supports measures that protect public health. We also support measures that protect our environment and deliver climate action.
“Where we differ from the Government is that we insist that such measures are fair, workable and credible, concepts that are alien to this coalition.
“In fact, at the heart of this Government’s approach is an inherent unfairness.
“We now have an all too predictable cycle. Someone in the Government, usually Eamon Ryan, decides that the way to address a problem is by making the lives of ordinary people more difficult. Then, when the Opposition points to the fact that such a move is counter-productive, we are accused of being populist. All the while, we have Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Deputies, as we have seen in the past week over the turf issue, running around their constituencies crying that they themselves are opposed to the moves, as if they were detached from the fact that it is only through their consent that the Government can proceed. When those same Deputies have an opportunity to make a stand, like tonight, they run for cover.
“It is like a wilderness across the floor of the Chamber. They are nowhere to be found, avoiding the debate before they meekly return to the Chamber to cast their vote and then quickly scurry back to their constituencies in the hope their voters do not notice the duplicity.
“Where are the backbenchers tonight who have been telling us and their constituents that they support everything in the Sinn Féin motion? Where are those Ministers who were conveniently leaking that they were passionate and forceful on this issue at Cabinet? Where is Minister Eamon Ryan tonight? He told me in a radio debate on Sunday that he was looking forward to this debate. What happened since?
“The motion is essentially about people being able to heat their own homes. Some, and it is a small minority, burn turf. All of the evidence shows that that minority is getting smaller because people move from turf when they have a credible, affordable alternative.
“However, as usual, rather than ensure that people have that alternative, those in the Government see fit to give them a kicking. They demonise those who have a different life than they do and they insinuate that those who use turf are responsible for public health issues for which they are not culpable, in the same way that they blame those who have no option but to drive to work for climate change while turning a blind eye to the multinational corporations that are actually responsible for the bulk of emissions.
“How ironic that during the period when Government Ministers have been at sixes and sevens on whether families can heat their homes with a turf fire, approval was granted to yet another data centre that will actually use about the same amount of electricity as entire counties almost. Of course, they voted against a moratorium on data centres when they had the chance because every time a proposition comes before this House that would make a positive climate impact but would face up to corporate interests, the Government shirks away. Yet, time and again it is willing to stick the boot into ordinary workers and families who have no alternatives and through punitive actions undermine public support for climate action and public health measures.
“For those who use turf to heat their homes, in the vast majority of cases the only available alternative is to use their home heating oil central heating. But, the cost of home heating oil has more than doubled in the last year. The Government, despite all of the rhetoric from the Minister, has not done a tap, not a single thing, to help ease the burden in regard to home heating oil.
“What does it intend to do now? It plans to increase the cost of home heating oil next week. If there was a semblance of fact around Government assertions that the turf ban is about public health, what it would actually be doing, rather than increasing home heating oil costs further, is supporting this motion and removing excise duty entirely during this cost of living emergency.
“This is a comprehensive motion before the Dáil. In a nutshell, it calls for the Government to scrap plans to ban the sale of turf, to cancel the carbon tax increase due next week and to remove excise duty temporarily on home heating oil.
“I was hoping to use this opportunity to plead with the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael backbenchers but they are not here. I do not know if they are in their offices rather than the Dáil bar but if they are listening, let me say this: if they want to make a genuine stand for their constituents, for those hard-pressed workers and families who have been squeezed to the absolute maximum, then they will come in here and reject the pathetic amendment the Government has put forward and support in full and with enthusiasm the Sinn Féin motion, rather than random leaks to journalists and a pretence that somehow they are on the side of the ordinary people who have borne the brunt of this Government’s mismanagement”.