A planned protest by truckers over rising fuel costs that is expected to bring traffic chaos to Dublin on Monday is “not the way to do business”according to a Government minister.
Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris made the remarks as he said engagement is needed, not protest.
The Irish Truckers and Haulage Association Against Fuel Prices, a newly organised group, is holding a 24-hour protest in the capital on Monday in response to petrol and diesel prices reaching a record high.
Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin claimed on Sunday that the Government doing “too little too late” on the cost of living is the reason for the protest.
Meanwhile, Independent TD Verona Murphy, a former president of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA), called on the Government to reduce direct taxes on fuel if Ireland is to stay competitive on the world stage.
The issue was debated on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.
Mr Harris outlined how there are inflationary pressures across Europe and how the Government is to consider what further steps can be taken to assist "hard-pressed families" with the cost of electricity.
A proposals for a €100 credit for all households to help with electricity costs early in the New Year is due to be discussed by ministers at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
On the upcoming protest, Mr Harris said Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton met with the IRHA on Friday, where the representative organisation proposed an expanded rebate scheme to help with fuel costs.
He said “both ministers have undertaken to very seriously consider that” and added: “That’s the way to do business.”
In reference to the planned protest by the separate truckers organisation Mr Harris added: “What is not the way to do business is for splinter groups to blockade effectively our capital city [on Monday] and cause other hard pressed taxpayers very significant difficulty in going about their business and indeed people in accessing our health service”.
Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin – citing the plan for €100 credit for electricity bills – claimed the Government “keeps on acting far too late, scrambling around trying to find some measure to introduce.”
He said his party tabled proposals on energy costs in February and highlighted how Sinn Féin had urged Government not to increase carbon tax.
He said: “Unfortunately, time after time, this government does too little too late. And that’s why people are going to be protesting tomorrow.”
Asked if he supports the protest Mr Ó Broin said he supports the right to protest “although I would urge people to have as little disruption as possible”.
Mr Harris accused Mr Ó Broin of being both in favour of the protest and against it.
He said: “This protest is not required tomorrow in relation to hauliers because what is required is real engagement.”
He claimed that due to Government actions there “will be more money in the pockets of hardworking families in January than there would have been under Sinn Féin proposals”.