Adams calls for extension of Fuel Allowance
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the government’s announcement to extend by one week the fuel allowance, however, speaking in the Dáil during Leaders Questions he said, "it does not go far enough".
The Sinn Féin leader raised the issue of the Fuel Allowance during the current cold weather. It is paid to people in receipt of different welfare payments who satisfy a means test.
Speaking afterward the Sinn Féin TD for Louth said:
“In Budget 2012, the government cut the fuel allowance period by six weeks. With the one week extension announced by the government that extends the period to April 12th.
However, the current cold spell is expected to last at least another four weeks. The extension is clearly insufficient.
The government has also cut the gas and electricity allowance, allowed fuel prices to rise and last year it deducted one week’s fuel allowance from over 60,000 citizens because of a departmental error.
It is a fact that many of the people in receipt of fuel allowance cannot afford to heat their homes adequately at this time. Many citizens are having to wear extra clothing, including their overcoats indoors because they cannot afford to fill their oil tanks or turn on the gas.
This is particularly the case for families with small children and older citizens, who are very susceptible to hypothermia and cold-related illnesses in these freezing conditions. The cold weather kills citizens. According to Age Action between 1,500 and 2,000 excess deaths occur during the winter compared to the summer. Many of these are older people who die from respiratory illness or cardiovascular disease.
While no one controls the weather, government policies which have citizens living in homes with inadequate heating, and have deliberately reduced household income, are contributory factors in some of these deaths.
The government has imposed a series of savage cuts on the most vulnerable citizens, while protecting the rich and the elites. The property tax that is to be paid in the summer will significantly reduce household finances and force families and older citizens even further into debt.
The reality is that the government is intent on putting banks and building societies before the welfare of families and pensioners, and before their right to childcare and women’s right to work.
The government needs to reverse its original decision to cut the fuel allowance.”