Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 6 Apr 2022

Vol. 1020 No. 6

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

Yesterday, I asked the Taoiseach to cancel the carbon tax hike scheduled for 1 May. Struggling households are under huge pressure trying to pay soaring energy bills. The very last thing they need is the Government adding to that pressure with a tax hike. Yesterday, the Taoiseach refused to cancel that increase and indicated that the Government is determined to press ahead with it. In that decision, the Government is ignoring the fact that every single euro counts for workers and families and that many households are literally down to the cents. If the Government proceeds with this, it will push ahead in the full knowledge that low-income workers, older people and rural communities have been hit especially hard.

The Taoiseach did acknowledge yesterday that what he termed a "wider initiative" is required to tackle this unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, which has been driven by inflation levels not seen since the 1980s and exacerbated by Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine. I am glad the Taoiseach has finally recognised the need for a comprehensive set of measures and an inclusive process to get the living costs down. This comes after months of resisting Sinn Féin's calls for exactly such a package. In February, we brought forward a broad suite of measures that would make a real difference and bring genuine relief and breathing space for households. We urged the Government to adopt these measures, which are realistic and deliverable. The Taoiseach refused to do that. We proposed a mini-budget that would target those areas during this crisis. Does the Taoiseach now accept the need for a mini-budget? Has the Government moved from its position of waiting until October to act? In other words, when will see this comprehensive set of measures? Will these measures include targeted cost-of-living payments to lower and middle-income workers and families? Will it include relief for renters? Will it include relief for childcare costs? We have proposed cutting these initially by one third. That is necessary to give parents breathing space. Above all, urgency is required on this matter because the fuel allowance is due to end on Friday. It is crucial that this payment is extended, initially for six weeks at the least, and that eligibility for it is expanded.

Tá mion-bhuiséad ag teastáil uainn chun dul i ngleic leis na réimsí atá i gcroílár na géarchéime sa chostas maireachtála. Laghdóidh íocaíochtaí airgid díreach agus gníomhartha ó thaobh cíosanna, cúram páistí agus an liúntas breosla an costas maireachtála do gach duine.

The Government can of course introduce a mini-budget to deliver direct cost-of-living payments, to cut rents and childcare fees and to extend the fuel allowance, but it must also scrap the carbon tax increase due on May Day. Although the Taoiseach clearly attaches little importance to this increase, the backbenchers in his own party and, it seems, in Fine Gael, have a very different view on this matter. I am asking the Taoiseach to seize the moment, to introduce measures that will cushion households and help give them some breathing space and, of course, to cancel the hike in carbon tax.

First, the Deputy did not actually call for anything of the sort that I proposed in the House yesterday in terms of the comprehensive approach I and the Government want to take to what is, without question, a very serious issue for the Irish economy and the European economy. That is manifested in the main at the moment by inflation. I said yesterday that we have had two, if not three, shocks to our economic model. The first was Brexit. We dealt with that, as a country, as best we could. The second was the pandemic, which was a once-in-a-century event. Thankfully, because of the economic measures the Government took to protect jobs, incomes and businesses and to keep them intact, we have bounced back very significantly as an economy, largely speaking, in emerging from Covid. The Central Bank's report today confirms that. Government initiatives in the teeth of a major crisis, that is, the pandemic, worked, notwithstanding that the ending of the emergency phase of the pandemic has created a huge inflationary cycle. Add a terrible war, the war on Ukraine, and energy prices have exponentially grown and risen. The sanctions the European Union, the United States, Canada and other democracies have imposed on the Russian Federation within themselves create economic impacts and shocks, some of which we are not clear on yet. The only thing from now to the end of the year, as far as I can see, is uncertainty. I would not understate the economic recovery in Ireland.

I fully accept the enormous pressures inflation is putting on households. We are very concerned about those on low incomes. Hence, we increased the fuel allowance from €630 when we came into government to €1,039. When the €200 cut in electricity bills is added, that is €1,239, up from the base of €630 when we came into office. Other aspects of the economy also illustrate the point I was making yesterday. The Central Bank is saying inflation could go to 6.5%. It has revised downwards growth forecasts. It expects the jobs market to remain strong with an increase in employment of about 88,000 this year.

The Department of Finance is preparing the spring forecasts.

We had the highest employment growth in the European Union last year, with the number of people work soaring by nearly 230,000 to just above 2.5 million, marking a record high and already surpassing our target for 2024, which was contained in the economic recovery plan. Employment has increased for all age groups and across all geographic regions. GDP went up by about 13% but it is modified domestic demand that we are focused on and that grew by 6.5%, which is now 7% above the pre-pandemic level. The unemployment rate is at 5.2%, which is close to full employment. Those are the plus points but there is one huge negative, namely, inflation. The challenge for us is not to undermine progress in other parts of the economy. I am saying the best way to do that is work with the social partners, trade unions and employers on the pay policy dimension to this, which is important as there are tax, social welfare, income protection and climate change implications. Then there is the issue of the costs for people on low incomes and for those who are going into work every day. In the €800 million package we put in place since the budget we have already reduced transport and medical costs. That is an intelligent way to go about this.

I have asked the Taoiseach to set out what this comprehensive approach will amount to. It has to be all about bringing costs down. I ask again whether it will include measures to give relief to renters and if it will cut childcare costs. What other measures does the Government have in mind? We all agree that costs must come down. I also asked the Taoiseach to act with urgency. The Taoiseach should bear in mind that both finance Ministers in the Government have previously said they are not minded to do anything until October. Sitting this out until October is not a viable option because people are under pressure now. I reminded the Taoiseach that on Friday, we will see the end of the fuel allowance, which gives an indication of just how urgent these matters are. What is the Government's comprehensive set of measures? Is it a mini-budget? When will we see it? I put it to the Taoiseach that at a time when people have to choose between eating and heating their homes, he could not rationalise, much less justify, an increase in carbon tax.

The way the carbon tax was structured benefits those on the lowest incomes, as the Deputy knows. That is the factual position and the research shows that but I know that evidence-based research is not the Deputy's forte in matters of this kind. That is what the research shows.

That is not true.

Patronising. The múinteoir scoile.

That said, we are conscious of the impacts of the carbon tax. That is why the fuel allowance has risen so dramatically-----

It is ending on Friday.

-----and we have extended it significantly. It is also why we want to enable people to retrofit their homes, to develop energy efficiency to reduce costs

There is a three-year waiting list.

The Taoiseach is talking down the clock. Can I have an answer?

The approach I suggest is a broader one which has to involve engagement with our social partners. It is not just about one single measure every week as we move along. That cannot be the way we react. We reacted intelligently, effectively and fast as a country to deal with the pandemic's impact on the economy. The pandemic brought about the greatest decline in our economy since 1939 in 2020, a recession.

The Taoiseach has not answered.

We bounced back because of intelligent policies.

The Taoiseach has no answer.

With the greatest of respect, the Deputy is about-----

The Taoiseach has a monopoly on intelligence now.

-----the electoral and political exploitation of this, rather than looking at it from a point of view of substance.

I asked the Taoiseach a straight question that he has refused to answer.

The Taoiseach cannot answer.

The Central Bank has forecasted that food price increases will drive inflation to 8% by the summer, heaping additional pressure on workers and families already struggling to get by. Costs for goods and services everywhere are rising rapidly and household budgets have been vaporised. This particularly impacts on those with low to middle incomes and on those with fixed incomes. I have listened to what the Taoiseach has said about this crisis carefully and he has repeatedly stated that the Government cannot bring in separate measures every week. Nobody is asking the Government to do that. We want to see a credible and meaningful response that would provide real relief to those who are struggling, those who are worried and those who are already in trouble.

There has been a lot of political debate about the carbon tax in recent weeks, much of it ignoring the taxation elephant in the room, which is VAT. The Taoiseach has said that next month, the carbon tax increase will mean an average increase in household bills of €1.40 per month. I am sure the Taoiseach will agree that VAT is considerably more and it is ever-increasing given the enormous prices rises in energy, which provides an unprecedented windfall to the Government. Last year alone, for example, the Government took in €3 billion more in VAT than it did in 2020. A large chunk of that was from energy costs. Up until February of this year the Taoiseach was telling the House that the VAT derogation was impossible because of EU rules. On 9 March, when a cut in excise duty was announced, we were told the Government was working with EU colleagues to see whether we could introduce greater relief or flexibility in that area. Last week the Taoiseach told us that a VAT derogation had been sought. It also was reported last week that the Taoiseach told his parliamentary party that we can expect some hard proposals on energy from the EU by the end of April.

Maybe the Taoiseach can provide some details to the House on that. When exactly did the Government apply for that VAT derogation? Was it separate or was it combined with other member states? Did the Taoiseach personally make that application to the European Council on 24 and 25 March? Has the Government applied for a specific derogation on VAT, reducing it to levels of 9% or 5%, for example? When will we get an indication of when that application will be successful? The Taoiseach said the application was made yesterday. The Taoiseach said the Government is considering offsetting the carbon tax increase. Is that impacted by VAT or the public service obligation, PSO, level? Can the Taoiseach give us some sort of an indication and a timeline for that?

I thank the Deputy for raising those points. Members are looking for initiatives every week and I understand that. We have to stand back, however, and take a more considered view on how we respond to this fairly unique crisis, which has been caused by the combination of a pandemic, emerging from that pandemic and the imbalance of supply and demand which that created and a terrible war, the likes of which we have not seen since the Second World War that is happening on the Continent of Europe and that is creating huge issues for all of us. We have to look at this in the medium term, rather than just from week to week. I believe the Deputy accepts that and I appreciate the point she has made on that.

I refer to the European Union and European Commission approach to the energy market. There have been considerable discussions in recent months at European Council level on the market, on how it is designed and on whether that market can be adjusted or changed to reduce the cost of energy. Different member states have different perspectives on that and we have consistently put forward the view that we need more flexibility on the legislation and the directives, including the energy tax and the VAT directives. We already enjoy a historic derogation on the VAT rate on fuels of 13.5%. We have told the Commission, including prior to the last meeting and prior to Versailles, that there should be flexibilities in the current situation that would not endanger the historic derogation we have. If we had simply reduced energy prices below that 13.5% rate, there was no guarantee under the existing laws that we could stay at 13.5% when the crisis was over but rather, we would have to go to 23%. That was something we were anxious to avoid.

We put forward an amendment to the conclusions of the last meeting, which was accepted, to try to head off that situation. It still has to involve discussions with the Commission. We want to be absolutely clear and certain. This is to allow us flexibility. We have different options and know what we can and cannot do. With the laws as they were, we were not in a position to do it all along, which we made clear to the House. We reduced excise duties significantly, by between 15% and 20%. The Central Bank spokesperson said that had an impact on reducing the costs on people from what they would otherwise have been.

The other side of the argument is that the Commission itself acknowledges that the market needs to be revisited with regard to the domination of gas in dictating the price of all energy in the European Union market.

I thank the Taoiseach.

Hopefully, by the end of April, there will be a further return to this, with a fuller reform of the market by the end of May.

For many people, there is a personal crisis and a family crisis. I know the debates have to go on at European Union level, but we have to inject some degree of certainty about the timeline. Are we talking about next October or before then? The Taoiseach talks about an inclusive process with social partners and stakeholders. What does that mean? We increasingly see people who are at breaking point. The Taoiseach must see them himself. Their budgets do not stretch to providing a roof over their head, food and energy. They are hoping that there will be good weather. That is the point we have come down to. There is a significant windfall for the Government, since VAT take increases as energy prices increase. How can that sit side by side with people in that kind of difficulty? Will the Taoiseach give us some certainty?

There is no point in tackling this with one measure alone. Pay policy is important. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has invited social partners to discuss extending the existing national pay agreement. It should be possible for us, as a society, to work through the different strands of income policy, pay, tax and welfare. The question is whether we can get agreement on prioritising those most in need and having a response that does not endanger the progress we are making in the economy and that does not have us just chasing inflation. We have already spent close to €2 billion since October in endeavouring to alleviate the pressure on people.

We have taken in a lot.

I know. There will be significant expenditure from here until the end of the year and beyond that. It is necessary and right. With the number of Ukrainians coming into the country, there will be expenditure on education, health and housing, of a significant nature. We have to get the balance right and not just react from week to week and month to month. I think the Deputy accepts that we should not.

I thank the Taoiseach.

To be clear, that will not be solved today but we need to engage with the social partners.

I raise an important issue in respect of the support available to Irish people and families who opened their homes to many Ukrainian refugees who came here as a result of the terrible actions of the Russians. As the Taoiseach knows, the Irish people have never been shy when it comes to supporting those most in need. When the call for support came, Irish people answered in their thousands. In many cases, they even travelled to airports to collect Ukrainian refugees who fled. Over the past weeks, I have had many calls and visits from the families who took in Ukrainian refugees to outline the difficulties that they face. It is important to put on record that those people have not for one minute regretted their decision to take in Ukrainian refugees, and if they had to do it again, they would not hesitate.

The issue people are having is that they feel isolated, with no support. They have very little, if any, contact from the relevant Departments. They feel they have nowhere to go for support and advice. They have no regrets about opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees but they are finding it difficult and financially challenging. They have increased energy and food bills and, on top of this, there are massive hikes in energy prices. When they look for assistance from the Departments, they feel they are being ignored. The commercial hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation are being paid to house Ukrainian refugees. The people who opened their homes to the same refugees are not getting any support.

This is wrong and must be addressed. It is wrong that these people are left isolated without any support or assistance. They were good enough to open their homes at a time of great need but now they feel ignored. They seek support from various Departments and get no response. This morning, President Zelenskyy outlined the support that Ukrainians need right now. We all need to continue to support the Ukrainian people in a time of great need. We also need to support the Irish people who have been good enough to open their homes. In many instances, they and their families have made considerable sacrifices. It is simply not fair that these people receive absolutely no support while hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation receive full support for taking in refugees.

I ask the Taoiseach to assist with this issue and get proper support to the many thousands of Irish people and families who have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees. This morning, the Taoiseach told the Ukrainian president, "our home is your home." Thousands of Irish people have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees. I believe this is the right place for them to be. It is a family atmosphere. Irish people have always put their shoulders to the wheel when needed. Irish people are not complaining and would do this again and again but they are getting no support. They get bills, including electricity bills, pick up Ukrainian children to bring them to school every day, and are looking for nothing. Everything is increasing. All I am asking for is for the Government to help these people the way they helped the Ukrainian refugees.

I thank the Deputy for raising this important issue. I salute and commend all those volunteers who are doing so much to help Ukrainian refugees to settle in this country. As I said this morning, "our home is your home". The initial focus of our response has been on accommodation. To date, 19,283 people have arrived from Ukraine. Of these, 11,800 have sought accommodation. There has been a huge effort. We have never had to respond so quickly to such a refugee crisis before. I pay a warm tribute to the public servants, as Deputy Michael Healy-Rae did earlier today, who have done exceptional work, working late into the evenings, to secure accommodation for refugees. There are nearly 2,500 children attending our schools so far. I thank the education community. This is war time and this is something we never thought we would experience.

We therefore have been focusing in the initial phase on addressing accommodation. We have much more to do. We are under pressure but we have to get through all the pledges. Significant work is under way. The Deputy referred to hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfast accommodation, the accommodation pledge by the public, State-owned or private properties which may be suitable for short-term accommodation, religious properties, local authority facilities and so on. All of that is being worked on as we speak and has to be where we direct energy right now.

Income support is immediately available from the Department of Social Protection once refugees come into the country, under the European Union's temporary protection directive. Health services are also being provided for the families who have arrived in the country. That has been our immediate focus.

We are establishing community response forums in each local authority to co-ordinate local responses to the Ukraine crisis. That forum will bring together all of the community and voluntary organisations which are active locally, as well as the mayor or cathaoirleach of each local authority. These local forums are best placed to put arrangements in place to help the new arrivals from Ukraine to access services. We believe these forums are an important part of what the Deputy has articulated with regard to providing supports on the ground for families, to enable them to integrate in our society more effectively. We are asking local authorities to take a leadership role in those community forums to enable people to come together to provide additional supports and services at that local level. We are witnessing this all over the country. Communities are responding in that way and we appreciate that.

I said it before that we cannot put a price on a family atmosphere. These families are not looking for profit, they are simply looking for support for the extra costs that they have incurred. While I appreciate the Taoiseach’s reply, he never once mentioned the people. These people went up to Dublin Airport, they collected these families and they took them back in good faith. Now they realise that there is a serious cost there. Many of these families have children and family of their own. With ESB bills, electricity bills and all of these bills rising, all they are doing is looking for a bit of help.

The Government is quick enough to pay the hotels. It is quick enough to pay the bed and breakfasts. They are not looking for a profit. On social protection, I acknowledge that these refugees are getting social welfare, which is fine, but they need they need that money for themselves, for shoes and clothes for their own family.

There is goodwill here and Ireland has been good. The Taoiseach said to President Zelenksyy this morning that, “Our home is your home”. These families are saying, “Our homes are the refugees’ homes”. They thought this war would last maybe four or five weeks. Now all of a sudden it might go on for two more weeks or six more weeks. The families do not know. Not one family who came to me said that they would change their mind, but they need help. They cannot afford to pay the bills. The last thing they want to do is have a conflict between them-----

Go raibh maith agat, a Theachta. The Taoiseach to respond.

Ireland is doing very well with Ukraine. I ask the Taoiseach please not to put a dampener on it.

I appreciate where the Deputy is coming from, but I make the point that, as I said, the hotels, the guest houses and all those facilities are essential. You cannot put hundreds or thousands of people into accommodation without resourcing that. We are very appreciative of the voluntary pledges that came in. More work is needed in the first instance to go through those pledges as quickly as we possibly can to identify what is suitable to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.

I can talk at great length with the Deputy about his experiences and the people to whom he has spoken. I believe that the people who drove to the airport did that out of the goodness of their heart. I have no doubt about that and they are anxious to help in the first instance.

We have to make it very clear that the reason all of this is being done is to deny Putin any sense that the West is under pressure. Unfortunately, in modern wars the likes of Putin count on hybrid warfare and on creating as much pressure through migration as they possibly can.

The Taoiseach is out of time.

We saw that in Belarus last year when it put pressure on Lithuania, Poland and other countries-----

We are over time. We will move on to the final question. I call the Rural Independent Group.

The Taoiseach says he and his Government will implement another carbon tax on 1 May. People everywhere cannot believe that, notwithstanding the savage cost of fuel, that the Taoiseach would even consider raising it further. The Taoiseach knows it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. This is the price that the country and the people of Ireland, young and old, have to pay so that the Taoiseach will have the continued support of the Green Party to remain Taoiseach.

The Government has already torn down Bord na Móna. Every day since then, the cost of electricity has gone up. The Taoiseach promised the people of north Kerry when he was canvassing there that he would support Shannon LNG, but now he is against it. Surely, the Taoiseach knows what is happening around the world. China is building massive electricity-generating stations. Russia is mining coal and oil. The USA is still using massive passenger eight-cylinder vehicles, such as Cadillacs, Lincoln Continental, Chevrolet, massive 5.7 l and 7.8 l eight-cylinder engines. Petrol is $3.80 a gallon there. Here, most people are driving 1.6 l and 2 l cars. Deputy Eamon Ryan is saying that we are still wrong. He wants to price us off the road.

The Government will break the country with it targets. Russia, China, India and Africa will keep doing what they are doing. They will do more harm to the environment in one year than Ireland would do in 1,000 years. The Government will close the country down. It will finish up exporting our youth, as happened in the 1950s and early 1960s. The true influence that the war is having on our energy costs has not been felt yet. Hauliers and construction are in serious trouble. Roadbridge has seen the loss of 1,000 jobs. It will have a ripple effect and many others are on the brink. Already ten construction companies have gone down in the UK. We will follow. If every light was turned off and we all left this country, it would only make 0.13% in the worldwide context. We are all under the one sky. The one sun and the one moon is over us all. The Government can cripple our people, cause the loss of thousands of jobs and can break the people, paralyse our farmers and curtail their ability to continue producing food. Nobody has calculated the cost of importing food from places like Brazil or what emissions this will create. It will certainly be more than a farmer in Kerry who is selling an animal to a factory in Bandon or selling over the over the counter in Killarney, Kenmare, Castleisland or indeed Macroom.

Deputy Eamon Ryan has been talking about solar energy for years, but we are still waiting for the power purchase agreements, PPAs, to be put in place for microgeneration schemes so that small energy producers can sell extra energy back to the grid. Farmers and industry have acres of farm buildings with roofs on which they could put these solar panels on top.

The Deputy is out of time.

That could give them a small bit of financial help to start them off. If they were paid for the extra energy, it would make a huge difference to relieve the energy crisis in this country.

I thank the Deputy for raising the issue. We need balance and perspective in the debate. I fully accept that the cost-of-living increases are having a significant impact on people. These are caused by a war and caused by a pandemic. Without question, the pandemic and the war have caused extraordinary increase in energy prices globally. This is happening now all over the world, not because of the carbon tax or anything else like that, but because of the impact on the energy market, because of restrictions on fuel and because of the enormous uncertainty that has created. As a result, the Government did take measures to help hauliers. There were measures taken in tillage to assist farmers, as well as on the broader issue of reducing the excise duty etc. on the cost of fuel between 15 and 20 cent. These are very significant measures costing about €900 million, when including the medical cost reductions, the transport cost reductions, to €200 electricity cut etc. That is on the top of a budget of €1 billion that was given last October in tax for this year. Already, close to €2 billion in measures have been taken and it is only the beginning of April.

In, the bigger picture, the individual tax that the Deputy references is not at all as significant as people are endeavouring to portray it. We can take measures, as we took in the budget to offset that.

We have not closed Bord na Móna, which is enjoying a new lease of life-----

The Government closed it down.

The Taoiseach is only codding himself.

-----in wind energy, for example, and in other issues such as conservation and the preservation of bogs etc. I put it to the Deputy that we have to play our part as a country. The young people of this country want us to play a part.

Let the Taoiseach speak.

The implication of what the Deputy has said is that this country should ignore climate change, should let other countries deal with it, that we that should paddle our own canoe and to hell with the consequences and that we should play no part like. Ireland from the foundation of the State believes in the international community. We believe in a rules-based order. We believe in playing our part.

It is nothing to do with that.

Climate change is existential. I know that the Deputy does not agree with it. He denies that it is happening at all. I think that is his position which he has put forward in the House. I disagree with him. It is existential and we have a duty to the younger generations, to our children and to our children’s children not to stand still now, not to deflect and not to postpone. We do not have a choice. It is now or it is never.

Eamon will not let you.

It is nothing to do with Deputy Eamon Ryan. It is nothing to do with the Greens.

It has everything to do with Deputy Eamon Ryan.

It is to do with the Taoiseach.

It should be the concern of every Deputy in this House and of every Senator.

He is keeping the Taoiseach in government.

It should be the concern of everybody.

I thank the Taoiseach.

We must act to protect this planet for our children and our children's children.

They will be dead.

That is what should matter in this House.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae has one minute.

Yes, it is political. It is to keep the Taoiseach in power until the end of the year and to make him Tánaiste next year and to keep the Ministers behind in place. That is what it is. The tail is wagging the dog. The dogs in the street see and know that. The Taoiseach has not answered or explained what is going on in Russia, China or the US. They are using massive amounts of oil, diesel, coal and everything else.

The Government would not let us cut a sod of turf here if it could do so. There are drains cut across the passages into the bogs in the midlands in order that the locals there cannot cut turf this year. The Taoiseach knows that.

He does know it because Bord na Móna has done it under instruction from someone. The Government is not being fair with the people. It will close the country down at the behest of the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Communications, Deputy Eamon Ryan. It is the Minister who is dictating the policy. I know there are good and fair-minded people in Fianna Fáil and in the other parties. The Taoiseach is not listening to them, however. He is listening to one man, namely, the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, and following him. The Taoiseach knows the answer he will get at the doors the next time around because the Minister is totally and absolutely wrong. He does not understand the trouble the people of the country are in at present and nor does the Taoiseach.

I must point out to the Deputy that prior to the formation of this Government, the Oireachtas committee of all parties was in favour by a vast majority, first of all, of taking very strong measures in relation to climate change. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae is in a very small minority-----

There were climate changes from the very start.

-----of people who believe that climate change is not happening.


He is also in a very small minority in this House who believe we should do nothing about it and just let China or the United States do it, and that we should paddle on. I do not agree with him.

We have always played our part. We are playing more than our part now.

We are not playing our part right now. We are not doing enough in terms of climate change. We are behind. Carbon emissions are increasing.

It is easy to put on a carbon tax. That is all the Government is doing.

The challenges we face between now and 2030 are significant. I am trying to be honest here. Let us not pretend that we are doing something extra or better than others.


We have to step up to the plate. We did not do enough in the past-----

The Taoiseach does whatever the Minister tells him to do.

-----in respect of climate change. There are win-wins here. The Central Bank of Ireland said there will be 88,000 extra jobs. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae talks about closing the country; a doomsday scenario. For God's sake, during the pandemic, we took measures-----

The Taoiseach is trying his best.

-----that rescued this economy and put it on the pathway to a dramatic recovery.

He is trying his best.

We want to do the same now in the context of this war-----

The Taoiseach threw out money in that context.

I thank the Taoiseach. We are over time.

-----in order to respond intelligently and sensibly to enable us to protect jobs and the economy, but, above all, to protect the quality of life of younger generations yet to come.