New cost-of-living measures expected in coming weeks

Ministers and senior officials expect that a new package of cost of living measures will be needed in the coming weeks as the Government scrambles to alleviate the impact of rising energy prices and rampant inflation.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan both indicated on Thursday further measures would be considered, while three other Cabinet Ministers told The Irish Times more Government intervention would be necessary.

In the Dáil, Mr Ryan said the Government “will come forward in the coming weeks with a number of other measures . . . to try and help address this real crisis we have” and suggested electricity companies could be required to offer the lowest rates to all customers.

Hardest hit

“What we’ve done so far is not going to be enough,” Mr Ryan said. “We’re going to need to do more.”

The Taoiseach said among the new measures under consideration were an expansion of the eligibility criteria for fuel allowance and a move to give families with children “extra help”. He said the Government’s focus was to target resources to assist the people and sectors hardest hit.

Last night, Mr Martin told the Dublin Chamber of Commerce the impact of the war in Ukraine and arrival of refugees in Ireland would be “unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes and it will, I believe, require an extraordinary societal response”.

‘Terrific burden’

He said it would place “another terrific burden on our public services”.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one Minister said another package of measures was inevitable and the only question was “what, how much and when”.

Officials from Mr Ryan’s Department of Energy have been meeting with energy suppliers to discuss contingency plans in case the war in Ukraine disrupts imports of Russian oil and gas into the EU.

Asked about imports of liquid natural gas (LNG) – which the Green Party has opposed – Mr Ryan said he would never rule anything out at a time of crisis in energy supplies. That included commercial LNG and State-run LNG facilities – as well as nuclear – if shown to be economic and viable, he said.

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