Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has today published a Bill that would see a ban on domestic disconnections of electricity and gas during the winter months.
Speaking today, the Meath East TD said: “We welcome the CRU’s announcement earlier this week of a moratorium on disconnections until December 1st in line with the current Level 5 restrictions, but we feel this does not go far enough.
“The financial hardship faced by thousands of people as a result of the pandemic and resulting restrictions, will not end on December 1st.
“This Bill we published today gives the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, the power to direct the CRU to introduce a winter disconnection ban, that would run over the winter months.
“Consumers are facing significantly higher energy bills this winter as a result of the price hikes from providers, the PSO levy increase and the 30% hike in the Carbon Tax.
“This all comes at a time when we have hundreds of thousands of people unemployed due to the pandemic, and their financial pressures do not finish on December 1st when the current moratorium will lapse.
“Last year 5,008 electricity and 2,424 gas customers were cut off for non-payment.
“We can’t have a situation where those facing financial difficulty have their gas or electricity cut off in the middle of winter for failure to meet their bills on time.
“Even having the threat of disconnections hanging over families is incredibly stressful.
“Our Bill would give these households breathing space and allow them come to a payment arrangement with their supplier, while ensuring their lights and heat are not cut off over the cold winter months.
“Other European countries such as the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium all have similar winter disconnection bans, and we believe this is a protection that should also be introduced here.”