Taoiseach accused of ‘not living in the real world’ as inflation hits 20-year high

Opposition leaders claim in the Dáil that the cost of living is ‘unbearable’

Mary Lou McDonald: ‘People have been hit with 35 energy price hikes in the last year, and the Government has been far too slow to react.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Mary Lou McDonald: ‘People have been hit with 35 energy price hikes in the last year, and the Government has been far too slow to react.’ Photograph: Getty Images

 

Opposition leaders hit out at the Taoiseach in the Dáil on Tuesday, and accused him of “not living in the real world” with the annual rate of inflation hitting a 20-year high.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the cost of living was “unbearable” while urgency from the Government was “sorely absent”.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said the country needed “solutions” from the Government and that current proposals would not have an impact

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Ms McDonald said people were being “hammered” by “non-stop price hikes in every area”. It was time for the Government to “do its job” and to protect workers and families from “being fleeced”.

Ms McDonald said in the two years since General Election 2020, the crisis in housing and health “have only gotten worse”.

“For far too many people, being ourselves again, means the stress and the struggle of trying to keep up with soaring costs while wages stay the same,” she said.

“So the yearly cost of putting food on the table is to go up by nearly €800, the cost of running a car by an average of €500, record rents up by 8.1 per cent, families paying the equivalent of a second mortgage in childcare costs, the cost of lighting and heating your home up a massive 53 per cent; it’s never ending.

“All of this adds up to a cost of living that is unbearable, and the Government must urgently deliver a plan that gets these costs down but this urgency is sorely absent. People have been hit with 35 energy price hikes in the last year and the Government has been far too slow to react. The €100 euro credit for energy bills comes very late.”

Tokenistic

Mr Kelly told the Taoiseach “I honestly don’t think you’re living in the real world”. The Tipperary TD said the € 113.50 credit on electrical bills was “a joke”, “tokenistic” and “actually insulting”.

He said higher prices were also coming through in food bills, with the price of bread, milk and butter gone up by 10 to 30 per cent.

“These are households staples…even pasta has gone up by 5 per cent in the last two months. The day-to-day essentials that families rely on to feed themselves are also going up.”

Mr Kelly asked how many families could absorb these costs and the Government “have to deal with it” despite international factors.

He said if the Government did not come up with measures people will suffer, “because this isn’t going away any time soon”.

In response Micheál Martin said the “global impact” had been ignored by the Sinn Féin leader in her remarks.

“It’s been almost all global in terms of the inflationary cycle. Europe receives a large majority of its gas supply from Russia. Lower flows of gas from there has been a major factor, and the geopolitical tensions at the moment in terms of Ukraine could exacerbate that and make things even worse if there was to be any military incursion, with all of the consequences that would flow from that.”

Mr Martin said progress was being made in relation to housing, but “there’s a long way to go” and there were significant challenges.

He said the health system had stood up to a “one in 100-year event”, the Covid-19 pandemic, which placed huge challenges on it. In terms of mortality and levels of illness “we did better than most across Europe”.