Fuel prices: Cut of 20c per litre on petrol, 15c on diesel from midnight agreed by Cabinet

Threat to food production and consumer prices described as severe as excise duty set to be cut

A cut of 20c per litre on petrol and 15c on diesel from midnight has been agreed by Cabinet on Wednesday.

There will be 2c off marked, or green, diesel - a form of diesel used by farmers and others which is already subject to reduced tax.

Ireland should expect the potential arrival of refugees on an “unprecedented scale” and in a short time frame with threats across food supply, energy prices and to business, the Cabinet was told yesterday.

Excise duty is being cut today in an effort to offset rampant inflation, with officials in the Department of Finance working into the night on the plan.


A wide ranging confidential briefing for senior ministers, which drew on information gleaned from every Government department, outlined the array of risks facing the country arising from the invasion of Ukraine.

Briefing materials given to ministers outline how the war could impact day-to-day life in Ireland.

The threat to food production and consumer prices is severe, ministers were told, with food processing dependent on gas supplies. raw materials for animal feed and fertiliser are major Ukrainian and Russian exports.

The Cabinet was told that if there was shortages or rationing of key materials, there would be “significant and immediate” implications for domestic food supply and farm incomes. Meanwhile, economic growth could be depressed due to higher prices and costs, threatening jobs and the exchequer.

Businesses, meanwhile, are threatened by a host of issues, including the uplift in energy prices but also general uncertainty and a range of volatility risks, including in financial and currency markets. If there are shortfalls in supplies of raw materials, or if cyber attacks follow, there is a risk of communications networks or online services faltering. Supply chains - by sea, and also, overland rail connections to China - could be disrupted, loading more price pressures onto firms and forcing them to find new supply routes.

Ministers were told that some sectors would be particularly vulnerable to energy price hikes - especially high value industries like biopharma, microelectronics and medical devices - while the risk to data centres was flagged as an issue that could have wider and significant international effects.

The Cabinet was told that it is anticipated millions more refugees will flee Ukraine, in addition to the 1.5 million who have already fled. Ireland is expected to be asked to accommodate around 20,000 people for every million seeking refuge in the EU.

This will put pressure on health, education and social services, with many elderly and unwell people as well as children arriving - many of whom will have gone through significant trauma, the Cabinet was told.

The Government is mobilising a widespread response, including offering medical and educational supports, but also temporary shelter, hotel accommodation and the use of emergency powers to bypass planning regulations allowing for the conversion of existing structures or temporary buildings being erected to house refugees.

Cabinet was also warned of the sprawling risks to food security, consumer prices and businesses - including ongoing internal investment.

With energy security a major threat, ministers were told that while Ireland is not reliant on Russia for direct gas supplies, some 12.5 per cent of oil imports come from Russia, which could be impacted if decisions are made to restrict handling of Russian vessels at ports.

Ministers were told that significant increases in electricity prices are on the cards for domestic and business consumers. Russian coal is being phased out at Moneypoint, Co Clare, the State’s only coal-fired power station, replaced with Colombian imports.

Meanwhile a partial release has taken place of the State’s 90-day strategic oil reserve. Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said last week Ireland had agreed with the international energy agency to release some of its reserves to the global market. Measures to manage demand - intervening in the electricity market if power shortages are a risk - were also discussed

While only three Irish special purpose vehicles (SPVs) - financial shelf companies usually run out of the IFSC - have been linked to sanctioned entities, almost 60 have a financial link to a Russian counterpart; however, exposure to Russia from the funds and insurance industry, both mainstays of the IFSC, is considered low.

Aircraft leasing, however, is threatened, with hundreds of planes leased to Russian airlines by Irish outfits, who now face risks to their insurance policies, and to the jets themselves. If they are not returned to lessors who demand that they be flown out of Russia, agreements for spare parts will also be voided, meaning the value of the aircraft could be hurt in the long run.

On the diplomatic front, ministers were told that the impact of Ireland being placed on a list of unfriendly countries to Russia is as yet unclear, as is whether the Kremlin will move to reduce the numbers at the Irish embassy in Moscow.

Among the risks identified is that of a cyber attack, with the National Cyber Security Centre briefing IT staff in the public sector and working in critical infrastructure such as water, transport, gas and healthcare.

While ministers were told that there is not yet evidence of significant cyber activity in the country associated with the invasion, energy, telecommunications and financial services are seen as requiring particular attention due to the nature of the sanctions imposed on Russia. Additional expertise in cyber security has been readied and is on standby if needed.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times