The leader of the Rural Independent Group has claimed that rising energy prices are due to “zealous and poorly planned green policies”.

Deputy Mattie McGrath said that record inflation is having a major impact on the cost of living for workers and families across the country.

“The latest EU data indicates that inflation across the eurozone rose by a record 5% in December alone. This destroys the government’s argument that inflation is transitory, as increased price pressures are remaining high.

“Rising consumer costs on everything from groceries to home heating and electricity are having a crippling impact on Irish workers and families,” McGrath said.

He said that many households had experienced a significant income drop due to the Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, however costs continue to grow.

“This is putting huge pressure on people’s finances and putting many into a financial crisis situation,” the Tipperary TD stated.

Energy costs

McGrath noted a recent warning from a European Central Bank (ECB) board member that “the green energy push” aimed at tackling climate change is “likely to keep energy prices higher for longer”.

Isabel Schnabel said that this may force the ECB to withdraw its stimulus and increase interest rates faster than planned.

McGrath claimed that there has been “little or no urgency from the government to support households”.

“My group colleagues and I brought forward a Dáil motion last November, seeking actionable measures, including myriad tax cuts on all energy bills, together with a €250 voucher for low-income households, to address crippling energy and transport costs.

“During 2021, the government stood idly by and collected the increased taxes, while energy companies were allowed to increase prices on households through more than 30 price hikes.

“Prior to these hikes, Irish households were already paying the highest electricity prices in Europe,” the TD remarked.

Deputy McGrath said that a commitment by government to pay €100 to every household to help with energy costs is “grossly insufficient to address inflationary pressures”.

He said that no timeframe for allocation of the payment has been announced, which he said was “too little, too late”.

“We need to see structured governmental action on the crippling costs of living. The stagnant wages or welfare supports are not keeping pace with the skyrocketing inflationary increases, and this is leading to a 1970s style wage-price spiral,” he said.