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Taoiseach 'worried' about winter as energy prices set to soar further


Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

The Taoiseach has warned that energy and fuel prices could yet rise even higher and has admitted he is “worried” about the winter.

Micheál Martin repeated earlier expressed fears that the war in Ukraine would cause the energy crisis to worsen.

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He said certain people’s eyebrows shot up whenever he mentioned the Ukraine war, but its capacity to wreak further economic damage remained.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had stopped the supply of gas to Germany and other major customers, “and that will have an impact”, said Mr Martin.

“Thankfully, we're not as dependent on Russian gas and oil as other countries.

“But generally, if the contraction is going more global, then that will affect everybody in terms of pricing, and so on,” he said.

Mr Martin said earlier: “I think there is no question that the war in Ukraine has exacerbated very significantly what was an emerging inflationary cycle coming from the pandemic.

“I am worried about the winter period. Because we've seen what Putin has done already this week in reducing gas supplies to Germany and to other European customers.

“That's going to have an impact on our energy situation. And he's leveraging to create the maximum pressure he can for the winter period.

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“So we do have to allocate our resources in the optimal way, which in my view is to protect people right throughout the winter period, and beyond the winter.

“That's the big objective, really, to get people through what will be a difficult winter period across the board.”

It comes as Government figures strongly signalled that additional measures to help with the rising cost of living would not be taken before the budget is announced in October.

In response to Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald's comments that the Government has been "slow" and "lacked urgency" in response to the cost-of-living crisis, Mr Martin said that "we can't take risks with the economy or inflation either".

"The World Bank is warning against the risk of stagflation, the kind of thing we experienced in the 1970s. And whereas the 1970s was caused by an initial oil-price shock, it was the second and third rounds of inflation that drove it on for the next 10 years," the Taoiseach said.

Mr Martin outlined some of the measures the Government had already taken to tackle the cost of living, including the €200 energy grant, the national retrofitting scheme, the 20pc cut to public transport fares, and the lowering of the threshold for the drugs payment scheme to €80 a month.

Independent TD for Limerick County Richard O'Donoghue criticised the Government's 49pc tax rate on fuel amid high fuel costs.

The Taoiseach said that a tax base is needed "to fund education, to fund housing, to fund health, to fund child protection services. We need revenue. Every society, every stable democracy needs a stable revenue base".

"The idea that you can just eliminate six billion of tax revenue is just not a runner.

"You haven't looked at the other side of it. So for example, four billion a year has been allocated to housing now, to build houses, social houses, affordable houses, cost rental, and so on."

The Taoiseach said that the war in Ukraine will impact on fuel prices.

"It could get worse in terms of the Russian strategy to now stop the flow of gas to Germany and other major customers that they have, and that will have an impact.

"If there's a contraction in supply more globally, then that will affect everybody in terms of pricing."

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