Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, says the extension of the Fuel Allowance period by one week does not go far enough to protect the most vulnerable who are suffering from the current severe weather conditions.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “While I note the fact that the Fuel Allowance period has been extended by one week, this will only be a very temporary respite for 410,000 struggling households throughout the country.
“Yesterday I called on Minister Joan Burton to extend the Fuel Allowance period by at least 3 weeks. In fact, the 6 week cut to the fuel allowance period by the Government was wrong and this short-sighted move has now backfired.
“Ireland has been subjected to extreme weather conditions in recent years and it is now time that Minister Burton seriously considers reinstating the 6 weeks that were cut from the Fuel Allowance. The payment is means tested so those in receipt of the allowance really do depend on it. It is certainly not a luxury and with huge increases in heating and electricity costs in the last couple of years, families and elderly people living on their own are struggling to keep themselves warm.
“There are over 2,000 excess winter deaths in Ireland every year and we must do more to protect these vulnerable people. While we can’t change the weather conditions what we can do is react in a humane way and offer some respite to those who are struggling to survive.”