Government ‘tone deaf’ on Fuel Poverty – Matt Carthy TD
Cavan Monaghan TD, Matt Carthy, accused as ‘tone deaf’ government TDs that voted against a Sinn Féin motion on combatting Fuel Poverty.
The Sinn Féin motion called for Fuel Allowance to be granted to PUP recipients as well as provide for a double payment for two weeks in February.
The government amended the motion to remove calls for additional supports and replace them with an outline of the existing government position.
Deputy Carthy, speaking during the debate on the motion, told the Dáil:
“I often wonder what type of mentality would allow a system that requires somebody to be unemployed and on jobseeker’s payments for more than 15 months before qualifying for the fuel allowance to remain in place for so long.
“How petty is that?
“The fact that this provision has remained in place and is in place in the midst of a global pandemic speaks volumes.
“This motion is very simple. It is about allowing people who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic to get support for their heating bills. It is about giving them the fuel allowance and extending the fuel allowance to as many people who need it as possible. It is also about increasing the payments for two weeks in February for all people in receipt of the fuel allowance. It is very simple and just.
“It is a small token on the part of the State to recognise the difficulties that people are experiencing.
“Once again, this is about choices. Many people will look at the Government’s response to this motion and at the choices it has made. The Government made a choice to increase the carbon tax again, a tax that will affect lower-income families and workers disproportionately.
“It made a choice to increase the salary of the Secretary General of the Department of Health by €81,000 and to appoint God knows how many additional special advisers at exorbitant rates of pay. It also made the choice to increase the pay of its Ministers of State, but it chose not to support our student nurses.
“The Government has made the choice not to support this motion. The amendment from the Government is embarrassing. Essentially, it confirms that the Government is tone deaf when it comes to the reality for people who are facing the crisis of their lives as a result of losing their jobs during the pandemic. I commend Deputy Claire Kerrane’s motion to the House. I urge Deputies to reject the Government’s amendment and to stand by the people who need a little support in this crisis in their lives”.
Following the debate, Deputy Carthy expressed further frustration, stating:
“We’ve seen a particularly cold period over the past fortnight.
“That the government would oppose providing additional funds in the midst of a cold snap, that it fails to recognise that people on the PUP may now be in need of assistance, it beggar’s belief.
“Fuel poverty levels today stand at the same level they stood in 2006. If this government is serious about addressing fuel poverty it should reverse course and support Sinn Féin’s proposals”.