Speaking in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald called on the Tánaiste to deliver on his party’s promise to tackle fuel poverty and to use Budget 2014 to give some comfort to families unable to make ends meet.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“We’ve heard first hand this morning the stories of families struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills.
“According to the St. Vincent de Paul the average cost of energy bills has increased by €500 per year.
“Working families and the unemployed are simply unable to meet the spiralling costs of gas and electricity. The real life experiences are heart-breaking.
“In my own constituency of Dublin Central I’ve met young mothers who have spent months without electricity or gas. I have spoken to fathers hit by wage cuts and tax hikes who have seen their arrears spiral out of control.
“These families were forced to choose between feeding their children or paying their energy bills.
Their arrears mounted up. The sleepless nights increased.
“Government’s response has deepened the crisis for these families.
“A Labour minister cut the smokeless fuel supplement increasing costs for people living in the cities.
“A Labour minister cut the fuel allowance by six weeks wrenching €120 out of the pockets of families struggling to pay their fuel bills.
“A Labour minister sat back and did nothing as the regulator hiked up gas and electricity costs.
“So the question now is how will government use Budget 2014 to help these struggling families.
“Every year hundreds of people over the age of 65 die because of lack of adequate heat.
“One survey has shown that half of older people go without food or clothing in order to meet the costs of heating their homes.
“Labour’s 2011 election manifesto promised to tackle fuel poverty. So what will the Labour party in Government do to reign in the spiralling costs of energy and will Budget 2014 give some comfort to families unable to make ends meet.” ENDS