May 16, 2024
Sinn Féin launch proposals to tackle energy poverty – Darren O’Rourke TD, Donnchadh O’Laoghaire TD, Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin have launched a suite of measures to tackle Ireland’s high levels of energy poverty as part of their submission to the revised Energy Poverty Action Plan, calling on government to urgently take steps to bring down the high cost of energy here.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action and the Environment, Darren O’Rourke TD said;

“Energy poverty is a critical issue in Ireland today, and significantly impacts hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods. 

“According to the latest ESRI report on the issue, more than 550,000 households are living in energy poverty, and up to 43% of households are at risk. Unsurprisingly, calls for help with energy poverty to St. Vincent de Paul increased by 68% between 2021 and 2023. These are staggering figures in a country whose economy is supposedly ‘booming.’

“Although the energy price crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine undoubtedly had an adverse impact, the reality is that there has been significant pressure on ordinary workers and families for many years when it comes to heating their homes.

“After all, Ireland has some of the highest energy costs in Europe. For example, electricity prices here are two thirds higher than the EU average, while gas prices are over a quarter higher. What this means is that the typical Irish household is paying €700 more than European neighbours.”

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection, Donnchadh O’Laoghaire TD said;

“Despite the fact that the Energy Poverty Action Plan has been in place since 2022, the government’s approach has not been good enough from the outset.

“Not only did they fail to comprehensively engage with and champion the voices of civil society and those with lived experiences over the last 18 months, significantly we still have no definition for energy poverty on which policies should be based. Not only does it make impact more difficult to measure, it also poses a threat to the efficacy of our efforts. After-all, it is difficult to target something if you are not entirely sure what that something is.

“Therefore, we welcome the move to revise the Energy Poverty Action Plan and have proposed a suite of actions to alleviate the substantial pressure on ordinary workers and families.”

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Climate Justice, Senator Lynn Boylan concluded;

“Unlike this government who are prepared to introduce temporary, one-off measures to blunt the impact of Ireland’s high energy costs – temporary measures which barely scratch the surface of the issue – Sinn Féin have a number of proposals that would make the energy market fairer for everyone. We want to bring real relief over the longer term – real solutions rather than sticking plasters.

“As well as steps to reform the Irish energy market curbing excessive liberalisation, Sinn Féin would increase the regulation, oversight and transparency within the Irish energy market. In order to make sure the green transition is for everyone and that our natural resources are translated into national wealth for all, we would expand the domestic, community and public ownership of renewables. In addition, we would focus our efforts on luxury and wealth emissions rather than the punitive focus of the government that disproportionately impacts energy poor households.

“Apart from these structural steps to bring down energy poverty, we would introduce a number of target measures including the extension of fuel allowance to working family payment recipients, increase the funding for smart heater control grants and establish a discretionary utility debt fund.

“Finally, we would radically reform the government’s regressive retrofitting scheme into a targeted, area-based scheme and establish a local energy advisor scheme to ensure that energy poor households are supported to be energy efficient and to lower their bills.

“It is clear that the government’s approach is not working. The calls for them to reform their approach are growing louder and more numerous. With these proposals launched today, real change can take place – change to lift people out of energy poverty and to deliver fairer energy costs for everyone.”

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