Deputy Thomas Pringle has cited the importance of climate action goals and called on Government to prioritise a just transition, as he slammed plans to increase petrol and diesel prices next month.
He told the Dail last night that planned fuel hikes are going to cripple families who are already struggling with the cost of living.
He said: “These are increases that are going to severely hurt families and that will add significantly to the current cost-of-living crisis. They are coming on top of pre-existing price pressures that are hitting every household across the nation, and coming into the winter anxieties are high, with many households worrying about making ends meet while costs continue to soar.
“I’ve had many constituents tell me that they are worried about keeping their homes warm and their cars running. This is particularly difficult for people in rural communities of Donegal who are disproportionately affected by fuel increases, as the county has the highest rate of forced car-ownership due to the fact that our public transport system is only starting now to develop,” he said.
The deputy was speaking in support of the Sinn Féin motion re Reversal of Planned Fuel Price Increases.
He said he fully supported the motion’s calls for Government to reverse plans to increase the price of petrol and diesel on Oct. 11th by 2 and 2.5 cent and a further 8 and 6 cent per litre on Oct. 31st.
Deputy Pringle said: “Donegal is a rural and isolated county that is constantly left behind in every area of development, and as a result the county is totally dependent on its road network. I have raised this point many times. However, I will continue to raise it as long as my constituents are forced to worry about how they are going to keep up with rising energy and fuel prices.
“Hiking these prices during such a difficult time for so many is wrong and the Government’s amendment to this motion is completely out of touch, I believe,” he said.
The deputy said: “Nobody is debating that the Climate Action Plan to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero no later than 2050 is extremely important, but not at the cost of our citizens. I am very proud to have introduced the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act 2018. I understand that the best way to move forward is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to prioritise decarbonisation in this country.
“But there has to be a just transition. We have to ensure that people’s livelihoods, homes and well-being are protected in our attempts to combat climate change, protect biodiversity and shift towards sustainability.
“People deserve to live a life with dignity. They deserve to have a roof over their head, food on the table and fuel in the car. We have the resources to provide that for every single person who lives in this country, while also ensuring that we meet our climate goals. But it requires ambition and it requires structural change.
“We cannot expect to achieve this without hitting the big corporations that use Ireland as a place to trade but don’t give back fairly to the State. We cannot expect to achieve this while continuing to provide for more and more data centres, which put significant strain on our resources but contribute very little to our economy.
“It is unfair that rather than targeting these companies, the government continues to put the strain on our citizens, who are just looking to get by and live a life with dignity. This government is failing those citizens by refusing to address this cost-of-living crisis.”
The deputy said: “Going into the budget season, I am urging the government to prioritise just transition and to introduce targeted, long-term supports for the most vulnerable in our society.”