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Friday 9 June 2023 Dublin: 16°C
Sam Boal/
# Cost of Living
Government 'can't take risks with economy', says Taoiseach in response to calls for mini budget
Taoiseach Micheál Martin faced more calls for an emergency budget today.

TAOISEACH MICHEAL MARTIN has insisted that the government cannot spend unlimited resources on the cost of living crisis, in the face of growing calls for an emergency budget.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald put the issue to the Taoiseach at Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today, saying “households cannot wait” until the budget in October for more help making ends meet.

She criticised Martin’s argument that the government had to protect the economy, saying: “Above all else we need to protect our people.”

“You are asking people to wait … I am appealing to you to change that position.”

Martin said that McDonald and her party didn’t “get the enterprise side of the economy, or want to.

“We can’t take risks with the economy or with inflation,” he said. “The idea of protecting jobs is something you should pay more attention to.”

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy similarly urged Martin to initiate a mini budget.

“I’m really struggling to understand why you’re refusing to alleviate the pressure,” she said.

“All we’ve got is platitudes … people are worried about how they’re going to heat their homes, pay their mortgage.

“Four months feels like a lifetime,” she said, adding that the economic forecast indicates that the spiralling cost of living “is going to worsen” in the coming months.

Martin retorted that those calling for a mini budget were actually looking for a “mini expenditure”.

“A budget has pluses and minuses.”

Richard O’Donoghue of the Rural Independents blasted the government for “robbing the people of this country” by taking 49% of the cost of petrol in tax.

He took issue with Martin characterising the rapid rise of fuel prices as the “energy strategy” of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Fuel in Malta, he said, was considerably lower than in Ireland, at €1.21 per litre for diesel and €1.36 per litre for petrol.

Martin responded by saying that Malta has one of the highest borrowing rates in the EU.

Energy rationing may “be a reality” due to reduced gas supplies from Russia being delivered in the coming months, EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said today.

Russian gas supplies to European countries like Germany and Italy have been reduced in recent days, while earlier this year gas supplies were cut to both Poland and Bulgaria.

Speaking in Brussels this afternoon, McGuinness, the Commissioner for financial services, warned that while the European Commission will try to avoid any kind of fuel and energy rationing, such measures may be necessary.#

This morning, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath urged people to contact the Department of Social Protection if they are struggling to pay bills.

However, like Martin, he has said that it’s not possible for the government to “offset every increase that people are experiencing at this time”.

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