Fine Gael senator under fire over petition calling for energy companies to lower prices

Laura Lynott

A Fine Gael senator has come under fire on social media after urging householders to sign an online petition to pressure energy companies into lowering their prices.

Garret Ahearn, who is spokesperson on enterprise trade and employment, received the backlash after posting a video online asking people for their say on inflated energy bills.

In the video, the Co Tipperary politician states: “We’ve all seen energy prices increase dramatically over the last 12 months.

“Almost every two to three months, there’s been an increase of 30pc on your energy bills.

“That has happened for businesses and ordinary householders and it’s had a real impact on the cost of living for people.

“If you’re like me and you agree that companies should act now and act decisively to lower their prices, to support hard pressed families, sign this petition…”

Senator Ahearn directs people to the Fine Gael website to sign the petition.

The video has stirred ire from some on social media. It shows footage of an older couple discussing a bill, followed by two young people working in a restaurant and a young mother happily chatting to her baby.

It then switches to a hand turning a radiator dial and intermittently to the smartly dressed Mr Ahearn.

One man responded to the social media video, writing: “You could have/should have done something about it ages ago.

“Do a survey on who wants you out of government. I guarantee you’ll get a ton of names.”

Another man wrote: “When the party of privatisation, Fine Gael, cries wolf because the very public utilities Fine Gael advocate be privatised….maximise profits by any means, it’s Fine Gael gaslighting you (no pun intended.) Stop pretending you care Fine Gael.”

A woman responded: “Oh for the love of God. You’re in power, it’s your job to stop the increases, it’s our job to remove you from power and will do so in the next election. How much has this advert cost the taxpayer?”

Central Statistics Office (CSO) data showed that household energy costs were the main reason for a hike in the inflation rate last year, with the cost of gas soaring by more than 86pc, electricity by almost 63pc while home heating oil prices rose by 40pc.

In the 2023 Budget, it was announced that domestic electricity customers would receive an additional €600 credit to help lower the cost of energy bills.

The credit was paid in three instalments of €200. The first payment was made in November 2022, the second in January this year with the third paid this month.