Taoiseach warns Government can only do so much to help spiralling energy costs

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has warned energy price hikes will continue to be “volatile” and the only way to help stop bills rising is for Vladimir Putin to end the war.

He said the Irish Government can only do so much to help people with the spiralling costs and can’t continue to hand out financial support packages to ease the burden.

It comes as around 730,000 Irish homes and businesses are set to face dramatic increases in their Bord Gais electricity bills.

The company is increasing the average electricity bill by 27% and the average gas bill by 39% from April 15.

The increases will add around €350 a year to the average household’s annual gas bill, and €340 to the average annual electricity bill on top of price hikes that have already been introduced.

And despite admitting they saw this massive price jump coming, Mr Martin warned the Government can only do so much to help people with the rising costs.

He said: “This is one of the prices now we’re paying because of this illegal and immoral war and we will have to collectively across the European Union see how best we can work to shield our people and our citizens from these impacts.

“We won’t be able to do it all but we will certainly see how we can alleviate the pressures on people.

“But it’s going to be very volatile.

“The war is an enormous shock to the economic system across Europe and across the world, be under no illusions about that.

“Government’s will not be able to shield citizens entirely from this shock.

Taoiseach warns Government can only do so much to help spiralling energy costs

“It’s a new reality and a reality brought about by war and on the continent of Europe and very fundamental decisions have been taken in respect of sanctions, the severest of sanctions ever taken against a country.

“And those sanctions in themselves will represent a significant shock to the economic system across Europe and the world.

“The most effective way obviously to ease the burden on people and particularly the people of Ukraine, is for the war to end.”

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the “crisis is hitting home now in energy” and said the announcement by Bord Gais will impact 20% of households across Ireland.

There are fears other energy providers will make similar announcements in the coming days.

Minister Ryan who is responsible for Energy admitted the Government’s €200 energy credit “won’t cushion the full blow” and said the most important measure is to start to reduce our use of fuels.

He said people won’t be using as much gas as we “switch into the Spring which will help.”

When asked what further measures could help low income families who are struggling and already on social welfare, Mr Martin told the Irish Mirror: “The idea that we can continue to sort of produce a billion package every two weeks, there are limits to what Government can do is what I’m saying because at the Cabinet meeting we had updates from Ministers that there will be a bill coming, financial additional expenditure on accommodation, education, health and various other services [for Ukrainian refugees].

“So the bills will keep mounting fairly quickly as a result of this war.”

He explained there has already been over €30 million allocated in terms of the humanitarian crisis and said “there could be a further €10 million in relation to that.”

He warned: “This is going to be medium term at the least.

“This is not something that is short term so therefore any prudent analysis demands that we look towards the next number of months in terms of what the likely expenditure levels are to be.”

He said the European Commission is due to come back with proposals at the end of March to see what countries could do to help with rising prices.

He said the Government already allocated €800 million to help deal with pressures that are on Irish people.