Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, has accused the government of being out of touch with workers and families struggling with the escalating cost of living.
Deputy O’Reilly was speaking as she launched her party’s motion on this issue, to be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday, which calls on government to take action on sky-high food and grocery bills.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The burden that the escalating cost of living is placing on workers and families is completely unsustainable.
“This pressure has been exacerbated by the failure of the Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath, and Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, to intervene to reduce energy bills or provide mortgage relief from ever-rising interest rates.
“Now these challenges are being compounded by soaring grocery and food bills, which have increased by almost 17 per cent over the past year.
“Inflation in Irish supermarkets is at the highest level ever recorded by retail analysts Kantar across the past 12 months, with the 12-week period to April 16th alone showing the rate of food inflation at 16.6%.
“That means average annual grocery bills would rise by approximately €1,200 if consumers maintain the same shopping habits, and government inaction has led to a growing reliance on food banks.
“The rate increases announced by government in Budget 2023 to social welfare recipients and pensioners significantly fell far short of what was required to cope with inflation, despite proposals brought forward by Sinn Féin and others who recognised the need for greater weekly social welfare increases.
“The escalating costs now facing households across the state is completely unsustainable and something has to give. That requires government intervention.
“But we have seen no sense of the urgency required by government to deal with any of these issues.
“This week, Sinn Féin is calling on government to do all in its power to ensure savings made by supermarkets and large food retailers in respect to falling input costs are passed on to consumers through lower grocery prices.
“Government must also instruct the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to investigate possible price-gouging in the retail food and grocery sector.
“They must also further increase weekly social welfare and pension rates to stem the flow of families and pensioners into food poverty.
“In addition, we are calling on government to amend the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022 to give the proposed Agri-Food Regulator powers to investigate anti-competitive practices in the agri-food supply chain.
“The government cannot continue their hands-off approach while workers and families suffer.”
Sinn Féin’s motion can be read here.