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Taoiseach Micheál Martin arriving in Brussels today. Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Fuel Prices

Taoiseach warns of ‘rocky’ times ahead after EU bans most Russian oil and gas

Micheál Martin said it will be “challenging” for consumers as the EU weans itself off Russian fossil fuels.

THE TAOISEACH HAS warned of “rocky” times ahead for consumers due to higher fuel prices after the EU slapped fresh sanctions on Russian oil and gas.

Micheál Martin said Europe is entering a “different era” of fossil fuel pricing due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Martin said the government will do everything it can to “alleviate the pressures” on Irish consumers.

The leaders of the 27 EU member states yesterday agreed to an embargo on most Russian oil imports into the bloc by year-end as part of the sixth round of EU sanctions.

The compromise move covers Russian oil brought in by sea, allowing a temporary exemption for imports delivered by pipeline.

Speaking in Brussels today, Martin said he is very pleased that the decision was taken by EU leaders, describing it as a “watershed moment” for EU consumption of fossil fuels.

“It’s a significant decision in terms of the banning of the importation of Russian oil into the European Union and really accounting for a very significant volume of Russian oil and that will hit Russia,” the Taoiseach said.

Martin said there’s no doubt in his mind that creating an energy and food crisis is part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy to secure victory in Ukraine.

“It is a watershed moment in terms of fossil fuels in general, which will make for fairly rocky territory over the next number of years in terms of pricing around fossil fuels, we cannot get away from that,” Martin said.

“We will do everything we can to alleviate the pressures on consumers. But if you look at the EU power initiative and communication it is very, very clear that if you reduce permanently your dependence on Russian gas and oil, that has implications for the global market over time.

But it will be challenging, there’s no point in saying anything other than that it will be challenging.

Renewable energy

Martin said it is clear from the EU Commission meeting that European nations, including Ireland, need to “double down” on producing renewable energy.

He said Ireland has performed well regarding developing renewable energy infrastructure but it now needs to “speed up the delivery of offshore wind projects.

“That’s the big game changer for Ireland over the next decade, no doubt about that. Because that ultimately, by the mid 2030s, would enable Ireland to become an exporter, as opposed to a chronic importer of fossil fuels,” the Taoiseach concluded.

Wage increases needed now

People Before Profit Mick Barry noted the comments made by the Taoiseach today that people can expect to see higher energy bills. 

“That really underlines the need for decent wages. Th Tánaiste says he will bring proposals to Cabinet in June with what he describes as a roadmap for a living wage. We will we will be making the point that the figure of €12.90 for a living wage was established in advance of the inflation crisis. In advance of a situation where people regularly were being asked for €2,500 or more for a month’s rent,” he said.

Barry said that €15 an hour is the figure that should be the minimum wage given the current cost of living crisis.

“We’ll be raising this in the Dail this week and we’ll also be saying clearly to the government, the idea of time lag or a time delay in this is not acceptable to us.

“Landlords won’t accept time delays in paying the rent, the supermarkets won’t accept the time delay in paying the grocery bills. Workers need wage increases, we need a living wage, and we need it now,” he added.

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