Government ‘failing to grasp’ urgency of cost of living crisis, opposition parties say

Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly says increases in cost of living ‘beyond a crisis at this stage’

Opposition parties have accused the Government of “failing to grasp” the extent of the cost of living crisis facing low and middle income households across the State.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly said increases in the cost of living were “beyond a crisis at this stage” and the Government was “failing to grasp” its urgency.

“Non-specified measures, which may or may not happen in the future” were not good enough, Ms O’Reilly said, adding that “people are making decisions today about whether or not they can pay their heating bills, or afford to pay their food”.

If the Government “wanted to alleviate some of the pressure people are under” they could defer additional tax on heating bills from May, and look at the cost of childcare and housing, Ms O’Reilly said.


Labour TD Ged Nash said there was "no urgency" from the Government about the cost of living crisis.

“I really don’t think they get the extent of the problems that low paid and middle income families are experiencing in their efforts to try to make ends meet,” he said.

Minister of State for the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton said the Government was "acutely aware of the increase of the cost of living" and that the Government would "continue to look at further measures" to alleviate pressure on households.


Tax measures would continue to be looked at, as well as social welfare increases, “which we have implemented right across the board for the living alone allowance, fuel allowance, increase in the qualified child payment, as well as a range of other social welfare payments,” Ms Naughton said.

“We are now looking at reflecting on the further increase in inflation, and we are now looking at further measures. Part of that is the already announced 100 euro rebase on people’s energy electricity bills,” she said.

Also on RTÉ's The Week in Politics panel was Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín, who said rent caps were an example of how the Government could alleviate pressure on households and pointed to Ireland's VAT rates, which are currently one of the highest rates in Europe.

“If you look at the price of a litre of fuel at the moment, nearly 60 percent of the price at the pumps people are paying to get to work is actually going to the Government in the form of taxation. It’s an incredible situation. And the government could help people in that regard,” Mr Tóibín said.

Public services in the State, such as monthly transport passes, were also “very expensive compared to other countries”, he said.


“We need the government to get serious about this, not 100 euros sometime in the future. That money needs to be focused on low and middle income earners. The idea of giving us to high income earners at this time of need is wrong.”

Ms Naughton responded that the Government wanted to “ensure that whatever measures we put in place can be put in place very quickly. And one of the quickest ways of doing that is that energy rebate scheme”.

The Government’s cost-of-living package is due to be signed off later this month. Taoiseach Micheál Martin has ruled out a mini-budget to respond to the issue last week, but declined to offer specifics on the Government’s plans to help people counter high inflation and energy costs.

The Cabinet subcommittee on economic recovery, chaired by the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, is due to meet on Thursday to discuss options being worked on by Ministers.