Sinn Féin accused of ‘each-way bet’ on climate amid carbon tax opposition

Taoiseach Micheál Martin rejected an accusation that the carbon tax has made it ‘harder for people to light and fuel their homes’.
Sinn Féin accused of ‘each-way bet’ on climate amid carbon tax opposition

By James Ward, PA

The Taoiseach has accused Sinn Féin of making an “each-way bet” on climate change after fresh criticism of the carbon tax.

Mary Lou McDonald said an increase in the carbon tax has made it “harder for people to light and fuel their homes”, and called on the Government to remove VAT on energy bills for the winter months.

Micheál Martin said that global supply issues, not the carbon tax, is responsible for recent increases in energy costs.

He told the Dáil: “There is no question that inflation has picked up recently, all across the world, in Europe, and indeed in Ireland.

“The annual rate of consumer price inflation was 5.1 per cent in October, the highest since 2003.

 

“One of the key factors here of course is the supply chain disruption and issues caused by the Covid impact across the globe, on supply chains and on the imbalance between supply and demand arising from that.

“And also issues specific to energy on the global market, and particularly in relation to gas.

“So the carbon tax is not the factor responsible for this inflation, and you shouldn’t try and present the impression that it is, which you’ve been consistently doing.”

Ms McDonald accused the Taoiseach of doing nothing to tackle the rising cost of living for families.

“You did introduce a carbon tax hike, which will affect people’s bills, it will drive people’s bills up,” she added.

“I have asked you to change tack, to actually respond to the realities of people’s lives.

“And, on the matter of VAT, to reduce it to zero temporarily, for the winter months, to give some relief to families, to workers, to people who are struggling.”

The Sinn Féin leader said the Czech Republic has already introduced the measure and called on the Government to follow suit.

Mr Martin cited an increase in tax bands in last month’s Budget as part of Government efforts to address inflation.

He added: “I want to say to you, in terms of your comments on carbon tax, it’s about time you got off the fence on climate change.

“You’re having an each-way bet every week, every month in this House for the last number of years on the issue of climate and on the issue of carbon tax.

“Which gives us the funding, by the way, to help people on low income meet the increased energy costs and energy prices.

“I think that’s so disingenuous from you, that you continually seek to exploit measures we’ve taken which are not popular, I accept, but which are very important in terms of dealing with the climate emergency facing the globe and facing this country.

“We know we have taken measures already that help people who are on low incomes, in terms of their fuel poverty, through the measures that we’ve taken, through the increased taxation.”

The Taoiseach did not address Ms McDonald’s call to remove VAT on energy bills.

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