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Cross departmental strategy needed to tackle fuel costs

1 October, 2008

On the day that electricity and gas prices are set to rise Sinn Fein MLA and Deputy Chair of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Jennifer McCann, has stated that a cross departmental strategy needs to be devised urgently to deal with the energy crisis in order to ease fuel poverty.

Speaking today Ms McCann said:

"Sinn Féin have been meeting with various stakeholders and social partners on this in pressing issue and will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks seeking their view and opinions on how best to tackle the energy crisis and the rise in the cost of living in order to reduce the burden on those who will find it hard to make ends meet.

"Its clear that the price hikes, that come into effect today, are out of sync with price rises in the south of Ireland, Britain and on the continent so why are we forced to pay the massive increase in costs of 19% in gas and 33% in electricity.

"Sinn Féin have proposed numerous ways to help aid with the current crisis such as investigating the possibility of accessing Venezuelan oil which can be utilised at a much discounted price as part of a trade agreement.

"An all Ireland energy strategy is also needed. Obviously sharing resources on an all Ireland basis can help reduce costs

"On top of this we urgently need to push forward the sustainable energy agenda reducing our reliance of fossil fuels that are highly expensive and finite.

"It is essential that we look at what measures can be taken to protect the most vulnerable in our society, to make sure that pensioners, people suffering from long-term illnesses and families with young children, to name a few groups who will be most affected, are not forced to make decisions between heating and electricity and putting food on the table.

"The relevant departments must come together with a cross departmental approach to dealing with fuel poverty and the energy crisis. It is not the responsibility of any one department. DETI, DSD, DRD and all the other departments need to show joint up planning and leadership to ensure that the dilemmas we now face in regard to energy do not detrimentally affect the economy, the environment or the well-being of members of the public." ENDS

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