O'Hagan - fuel poverty must be taken more seriously
Dr. Dara O'Hagan supporting Motion 179 on Fuel Poverty called for the establishment of a cross departmental Ministerial Task Force. Dr. O'Hagan said:
Cross-Departmental Ministerial Task Force
The problem of fuel poverty needs to be given political leadership at the highest level. The creation of a Cross-Departmental Ministerial Task Force is the best way to achieve this. Government departments, local councils and political parties all have a leading role to play in tackling fuel poverty. It is clear that political leadership can get positive results much more quickly, the example of the energy efficiency levy being approved in the Assembly is a case in point.
A Cross-Departmental Ministerial Task Force would have the necessary political 'clout' and ability to move the issue along with the speed it deserves and it would be treating fuel poverty with the seriousness and urgency it deserves. This Task Force should also be responsible for monitoring targets for eliminating fuel poverty and for publishing an annual report to this effect.
Another necessary component of tackling fuel poverty is additional resources. It is disappointing that DSD has done nothing in this regard. This calls into question the department's commitment to seriously dealing with this issue.
All-Ireland Fuel Poverty Strategy
It has long been recognised that the existence of two separate energy markets on such a small island is neither cost effective nor politically sensible. An all-Ireland energy strategy is now in place with one of the desired outcomes being a lowering of fuel prices throughout the island as well as ensuring security of supply. An all-Ireland fuel poverty strategy should be part of the all-Ireland energy strategy with responsibility for this under the All Ireland Ministerial Council and the Cross-Departmental Ministerial Task Force.