Taoiseach gives special Dáil warning on Storm Emma - but it doesn't go down well
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took the time for a special Dáil announcement about the national response to the expected cold snap.
But Mr Varadkar’s words gave rise to a row about the government’s response to the forecast of snow storms – long before these hit the country.
Mr Varadkar took the unusual step of asking for time to make a Dáil statement about the weather. Or, as he described it "the Beast from the East and Storm Emma".
"Do not do anything that would put your life or the life of others in danger," the Taoiseach warned the nation.
The Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised a procedural point insisting that it would have been better to have a Dáil debate on the snow and weather generally.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald accused the Taoiseach of “stating the obvious” and urged a more clear statement of intent on increased fuel allowances to help vulnerable people, especially the elderly, cope with the upcoming cold snap.
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Mr Varadkar said the Government had already made changes to the fuel scheme, paid to 338,000 homes at a cost of €230m to taxpayers.
Changes included an extra week, extending the scheme into April, and things like paying money in lump sums in some cases.
The Taoiseach said a statement from the junior minister responsible for old people, Jim Daly, advising old people “to keep heating on around the clock” was not a government statement.
Mr Varadkar said the Social Protection Department would look favourably at helping people with higher fuel bills – but around-the-clock heating would cost more than the fuel allowance currently at €22.50 per week.