St Vincent de Paul in Longford have hit out at the doubling of the level of carbon tax on solid fuels saying it will have a ‘detrimental impact’ on people already struggling to make ends meet.
From Thursday, May 1, the increased carbon tax resulted in €1.20 being added to the cost of a 40kg bag of coal and €0.26 to a bale of briquettes.
President of St Mel’s Conference, SVP, Kathleen Mimnagh told the ‘Leader’, “Some people are finding it impossible to make ends meet and in fact there are people who actually need a weekly subsidy just for food.”
Ms Mimnagh added, “There is a lack of money to buy even the bare essentials and fuel and food poverty are the two main issues at the moment.”
Head of Advocacy and Communications with Age Action Ireland Eamon Timmins warned that the hardest hit will be older people who live in homes without central heating and who depend on solid fuel for their heat needs.
He added, “The Government has a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable of older people, and if it intervenes to drive up the cost of fuel through the imposition of carbon tax, the very minimum it should do is ensure it protects people who are already struggling to heat their homes to a safe level.”
Independent Senator and European Election candidate, Ronan Mullen was very critical of the tax and of Labour.
“This is not just a tax on families but a tax on poorer, more vulnerable, people. It is the worst example yet of the regressive taxes being introduced by this Government. It takes absolutely no account of a person’s ability to pay.
“This tax was originally spun as a source of ring-fenced funding for insulation programmes but this fiction has been abandoned by the Government.
“I would remind the Labour Party of the slogan they used before the last General Election - ‘Every little hurts’. Unfortunately it seems that to the Labour party it was just that - a slogan.”
Independent MEP Marian Harkin accused the government of bringing austerity measures to a new punitive level especially for the poorest in the community.
“This astounding level of increase in the cost of coal and briquettes is being cynically imposed at the beginning of summer and it is no exaggeration to say that when winter comes in, it will have the most serious of consequences including threats to life especially for the elderly”, she said.
She added, “This tax had nothing to do with European Union legislation as it was purely an Irish government policy.”
Sinn Féin Euro candidate Matt Carthy said Fine Gael and Labour don’t comprehend that this measure will cost jobs and increase the hardship being suffered by many families.
“With the Labour Party mired in internal squabbles and Fine Gael preoccupied with opinion polls, it is clear that the government is oblivious to concerns of communities.
“I am urging both parties to reconsider their position on the carbon tax issue and recognise the impact that this price increase will have on vulnerable people and local economies.”