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Deputy Louise O’Reilly seeks moratorium on household energy disconnections

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Louise O'Reilly TD

Louise O'Reilly TD

Louise O'Reilly TD

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A Dublin Fingal Sinn Féin TD has urged the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Eamon Ryan (GR) to support a motion to place moratoriums on disconnections of household energy.

The “Domestic Electricity and Gas Disconnections: Motion [Private Members]” was brought forward in the Dáil last week by Sinn Féin Deputy Darren O’Rourke.

The motion called for a moratorium on disconnections to be immediately put in place for all households until the end of the Fuel Allowance season, and the friendly credit on pre-pay meters to be extended for the duration of the ban on disconnections to give pre-pay meter households the same protection from disconnections as other households.

The motion also called for legislation to be introduced to give the CRU powers to regulate standing charges on energy bills, for the Government to reduce and cap the price of electricity bills at summer 2021 rates; and a windfall solidarity tax to be introduced on the excess profits of energy companies.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy O’Reilly said: “I thank my colleague, an Teachta O'Rourke, not just for the important motion, but for all of the work he is doing.

"The Taoiseach spoke directly to the 378,000 people who are on prepay meters and told them that they would not be cut off, but then the Minister's party colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Joe O'Brien, appearing on a television programme at the weekend, told people that maybe they can go to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, MABS, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul or a community welfare officer.”

She added: “I think he was genuine in saying that, as if it would be news to people who live on low or fixed incomes. Many of those people have already exhausted a large number of the options available to them, however, and they do not have weeks to wait for a community welfare officer to respond to them.”

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Deputy O’Reilly said it was “cruel and unfair” to tell people who are afraid they will be “cold this week” that they will not be cut off, but then to be found wanting when the mechanism for ensuring that is requested.

The Sinn Féin Deputy urged the Minister to support the motion, “and to think about people who are worried now, who will have to explain to their children why they cannot turn on the lights today.”

Deputy O’Reilly said there is a “genuine need” to protect people from this energy crisis, and those who are on prepay meters are among the most vulnerable in the State.

She concluded: “I encourage the Minister in making his remarks to speak directly to those people - not to give them false hope but to tell them what it is that he and his Government propose to do to keep the lights on so that their kids can do their homework and so that they can wash their clothes and do all of the things that people should be able to take for granted. I urge him to support the motion.”


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