TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has moved to assure the public that the Government will do everything it can to help households and businesses with rising energy costs in the forthcoming Budget.
Mr Martin made the comments yesterday when speaking to the media following an event at Midleton Distillery where Irish Distillers announced a €250m investment plan for a new state-of-the-art distillery adjacent and connected to the existing distillery.
Mr Martin said the Government will use the Budget in tandem with a once-off cost-of-living package to alleviate pressures on households and businesses.
"Government has to and will, in the context of the Budgetary package, do everything we can to alleviate pressure in this calendar year through a once-off cost-of-living package and get money into people’s pockets.
"When we talk about schools, we need to support and increase significantly the capitation grants for this year so that schools will have the funding to enable them to pay for their energy costs.
Mr Martin said the Government will also discuss introducing a windfall tax on energy companies.
"We will consider the windfall tax issue. It’s complex. The Minister for Finance will be looking at the detailed design of that," he said.
Coalition leaders, Mr Martin said, will have a further meeting today with Minister for Public Expenditure, Michael McGrath and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to discuss the pressing matters of energy security and energy prices.
He also said that EU energy ministers will meet on September 9 to bring forward emergency measures to curb soaring prices.
Mr Martin also appealed to the public to make a concerted effort to reduce their energy consumption.
"We do need now, all of us, to focus in on reducing energy. I was in a primary school this morning in Grange, and the teacher introduced me to an energy detective in the classroom and I said ‘What does the energy detective do?’, ‘He makes sure the lights are off when we leave the classroom’.
"This was in senior infants. That is the kind of thought process we all need to get into now in terms of switching off the lights when we don’t need them on," he said.