The government’s temporary support schemes are like “putting a plaster on a bullet wound”, Deputy Thomas Pringle told the Dáil this week as business owners struggle with surging costs.
The Independent TD said the temporary energy scheme for businesses came far too late.
“I have been contacted by a shop owner in my constituency, for example, who has seen an incredible 118.8% increase in their energy bill, working out at an additional cost of €160,000 per year,” Deputy Pringle said.
“When factoring in the increased costs in packaging and insurance, they were looking at a reduction of approximately €220,000 a year in their bottom line. This is completely unsustainable and without a doubt will force the closure of a number of local businesses in my town and throughout my constituency and indeed throughout the country,” he said.
He said the TBESS scheme “is not enough to help businesses in our rural communities get by this winter. It will, however, go a long way in helping big business and tech companies pay their bills, which will obviously be significantly higher. “
Pringle said the fact that data centres, who currently account for 14 percent of Ireland’s electricity usage, could be eligible for this scheme is “outrageous”.
He called for targeted supports to help the people that need it most.
We need to start building more affordable homes and create incentives for landlords to prioritise long-term rentals by increasing taxation on short-term rentals such as Airbnb,” he said.
Deputy Pringle’s comments were made during a debate on the Finance Bill, which Pringle said “does nothing for most in this country”.
The deputy said: “I see nothing of substance in this bill. Nothing but temporary scheme after temporary scheme, putting a plaster on a bullet wound. Doing nothing to address the systemic change that this country so desperately needs, but temporarily covering up and facilitating the issues we are experiencing.”
Deputy Pringle said: “Despite the fact that Ireland is ranked as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with a relatively strong economy, this is in no way reflected on the ground in our cities, towns or rural communities.”
He said he was in contact on Tuesday with a second-year student nurse from Donegal studying in Dublin, who can no longer afford to travel home to see her family due to high fuel costs and Dublin rent. She said: “I have yet to have a conversation with another student who isn’t planning on leaving after college to work elsewhere. Nursing is a profession built off caring for people, yet we students do not feel cared for. We feel hurt and betrayed, and we are exhausted.”
Deputy Pringle said: “Again I want to reiterate the point that Ireland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and if we choose not to help the people who need it, it’s a choice. And it is not because we couldn’t if we wanted to, it’s a choice that we make every day.”