Budget 2020: Calls for measures to mitigate carbon tax

‘Fossil fuel workers are going to be disproportionately affected,’ says Fine Gael TD

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, speaking to media in advance of Budget 2020 at the Department of Finance, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, speaking to media in advance of Budget 2020 at the Department of Finance, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Measures to mitigate carbon tax by increasing the fuel allowance and a special fund for peat workers in the Midlands are among the likely features of tomorrow’s budget after Fine Gael TDs called for them on Monday at Leinster House.

Offaly TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy called for increases in the carbon tax in tomorrow’s budget to be “ring fenced for environmental projects” and for measures to mitigate the effects on people most affected.

She also said she wanted to see a “Midland Regional Transition Fund” to assist Bord na Móna workers in her Offaly constituency affected by the move away from fossil fuels and said that Offaly should be used as a location for a pilot project for a national retrofitting scheme.

Her comments, delivered at Leinster House with other Fine Gael TDs, will fuel an expectation that the measures will be included in the budget, but she denied she had been given any signal to that effect.

She said she was pushing for the measures, but “only [Minister for Finance] Paschal Donohoe knows what’s going to be in the budget”.

“Fossil fuel workers are going to be disproportionately affected and their communities and their families to me must ensure that frameworks are put in place to ensure that they themselves will be protected and given opportunities to upskill, to retrain, to go to third-level, whatever they require,” Ms Corcoran Kennedy said.

“There is a massive retrofitting programme required across the country and I don’t see why my county in Offaly and Midlands couldn’t be a fantastic pilot for that seeing as we are going to be disproportionately impacted,” she said.

The TDs criticised Fianna Fáil and other Opposition parties for making unfunded commitments ahead of the budget.

Dublin TD Kate O’Connell called for assistance for young families to meet the costs of childcare, while Colm Brophy and Peter Burke both said that the budget needed to be prudent in the face of a no-deal Brexit. Mr Brophy said that Fianna Fáil promises were “Alice in Wonderland stuff”.

Parliamentary party chairman Martin Heydon said that Fianna Fáil is “calling us names” but the party should say where they were going to get the money for all the spending commitments it has backed.