Government accused of ‘living in dreamland’ on cost of living crisis

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty says measures taken in response ‘barely’ scratch the surface

Sinn Féin has accused the Government of “living in dreamland” and said it “needs to get a reality check” when it comes to the cost of living crisis.

Pearse Doherty, the party's deputy leader, said that while the recently announced once-off energy credit was better than nothing, it "won't make a dent when people are paying thousands to light and heat their homes".

During Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil on Tuesday, Mr Doherty raised a report from children’s charity Barnardos which found that a quarter of families fear that they will not be able to feed their children as the price of groceries soars.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said almost 400,000 households in receipt of the fuel allowance would receive a €125 one-off payment over the next three weeks.

Mr McGrath said the Government accepted that a lot of people were under “real pressure” because of the rising cost of living, which was down to domestic and international factors.

He said recent Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures indicated that there had been a slight fall in the Consumer Price Index from 5.7 per cent to 5 per cent.

“We can’t take too much comfort from that, it’s a slight easing. We don’t know yet whether that is going to be part of an improvement in the underlying trend or whether it is a one-off. Time will tell in relation to that,” he said.

Ordinary people

Mr Doherty said the recent package of measures announced by the Government to tackle the rising cost of living “barely scratches the surface”.

“You need to wake up and you need to understand where ordinary people are at because you’re living in dreamland if you think that people can hang on and wait until next October until you announce next year’s budget,” he said.

Separately, Mr McGrath said the central point of the Sláintecare healthcare reform plan was to see cost not being a barrier to people who needed to access healthcare. He said any form of cost that people face is a barrier and “must be addressed”.

He was responding to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall, who said there had been further revelations in the Business Post at the weekend about “the dysfunction at the heart of the health service”.

"Department of Health officials described a horror of waste in the HSE, criticised recruitment targets as incredulous and expressed concern at their inability to hold the HSE to account," she said.

At the same time, Ms Shortall said cancer patients were being hounded by debt collectors to “repay outstanding debts related to life saving services”.