Bishop warns over energy price hikes
Bishop Denis Nulty has intervened in Ireland's energy poverty crisis.
The Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin has warned that further price increases which come into effect within weeks will worsen the financial situation that many vulnerable families are already facing.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent this weekend, the bishop said: "This is a very real issue. The huge poverty in Ireland is energy poverty and I'm afraid a lot of people are missing it.
"I know of people who are already trying to pay back huge energy bills after the Beast from the East hit and now, with further hikes on top of that, many simply won't be able to cope.
"The Government needs to look at the price increases and think about how the poor in society can be supported, otherwise the poor are going to get even poorer.
"Without a shadow of a doubt the economy has improved but we still have to think about the most vulnerable among us and how this is going to affect them."
His comments came after two more Irish energy providers have raised their prices, becoming the latest to do so after a difficult few weeks for Irish consumers.
Panda Power and Pinergy have said they will increase their standard unit electricity price by 5.9pc and 9.38pc respectively.
Panda Power is also raising its gas prices by 5pc. Panda's hikes will equate to an increase of about €80 on a typical annual household dual fuel bill.
Pinergy's price hike means an additional €72 per year for their customers' bills.
All increases will take effect from August 1.
The companies are following their competitors in the Irish market - SSE Electricity, Flogas, Electric Ireland and Energia - who have all announced similar increases in recent weeks.
The price hikes are being blamed on the rising costs of fossil fuels on the global markets. More companies in Ireland are also expected to follow suit.
Last month, St Vincent de Paul said that more than 800,000 people in Ireland were currently living in poverty. This is despite Ireland's position as one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
The charity says the situation is completely "unacceptable" and has called on the Government to stop measuring the country's economic growth as a sign of wealth.
Despite Ireland's economic growth in recent years, 780,000 people now live below the poverty line - 16pc of the Irish population.
The number of children living in poverty has increased by 70,000 compared with 10 years ago.