STRONG WORDS Westport TD Michael Ring has said the coalition leaders, including his colleague Leo Varadkar, should not be ‘lecturing’ people on fossil fuel during the current cost of living crisis.
Former Minister blasts coalition leaders for ‘lecturing’ people on fossil fuel
The Corrib gas field off the Mayo coast should be further explored for fossil fuel while Ireland is dealing with an energy crisis.
That’s according to Mayo TD Michael Ring, who has also slammed the three Government party leaders over their handling of the current energy crisis.
Electricity and fuel prices have skyrocketed, and Ring – who was Minister for Rural and Community Development in the last government – said Ireland needs to change its outlook on fossil fuels in light of the energy crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war there.
“A Government decision has to be made in relation to the gas terminal in Limerick, and it should be put in,” he told The Mayo News yesterday. “There’s more gas in the Corrib field and there’s oil out there, and they should be let get out and get it, and Éamon Ryan and Leo Varadkar will have to change their view on that. We need the fuel.
“In every other country in the world now, in relation to solid fuels, they’re all changing their policy because we are now in a war and we’re in an energy crisis. The people are hurting … every section of society is hurting now on this one,” he added.
Cart before the horse
Criticising Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Green Party leader Éamon Ryan’s handling of the energy crisis, the often outspoken Fine Gael TD did not hold back:
“I’ve said it in the party, and I’m saying it again – it’s fine for Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin and Éamon Ryan to be lecturing the people of the country, but the Government themselves cannot deal with any of the issues that they should be dealing with.
“They cannot be telling people they cannot use gas, they cannot use turf, they cannot use solid fuel, unless there’s an alternative. There’s not an alternative there now.”
While conceding that the SEAI grant scheme ‘and a few schemes like that’ are in place to help households become more energy efficient, he argued that they have ‘two year and three year waiting lists’ that must be addressed. “The Government have to do their job first before they can lecture the people,” he said. “What they’re doing is putting the cart before the horse,” he said.
Support for the squeezed
Deputy Ring said his constituents are most concerned about the cost of living and housing right now.
“In terms of the cost of living, the regulator is out there allowing big [price] increases for gas and fuel. The Government have to step in. It is very serious and something has to be done,” he said, adding: “I’ll be there at Government level, and I’ll adjudicate when the Budget comes and decide if the Government have done enough or not for the people.”
The Fine Gael TD added that while he would be urging both Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath to increase social welfare, it is ‘middle Ireland’ that is ‘feeling the squeeze out there right now’.
“The people who are out there working, they’re not getting wage increases. Everything is costing them more. They’re not getting the Back to School Clothing (and Footwear Allowance), they don’t have medical cards. They’re paying for everything. Something has to be done for them,” he said.
He also said that small businesses are feeling the pinch.
“You’re going to have small businesses out of business. I spoke to a constituent of mine the other day, employing a number of people. He got through recessions before, he got through the Covid, [but] he doesn’t believe he can continue if these prices keep continuing the way they are. It cannot go on,” said Deputy Ring.