Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle supports moratorium on electricity, gas disconnections, repeats call for nationalising the industry

Pringle supports moratorium on electricity, gas disconnections, repeats call for nationalising the industry

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has supported a call for an immediate moratorium on electricity and gas disconnections and repeated his call to renationalise the energy industry.

Addressing the Dáil on Tuesday evening, Deputy Pringle said: “It is heartbreaking to have constituent after constituent telling me that they are unable to afford their electricity and gas bills. It is even more heartbreaking when I hear the energy companies making record profits.

“Record profits in a year when there were 712 domestic electricity and 309 domestic gas disconnections due to non-payment of account. This is absolutely despicable. What kind of country are we living in when we allow this to happen? What kind of government allows this on their watch?”

The deputy said a recent Behaviour & Attitudes survey showed that more than one million people in Ireland say they are struggling to make ends meet.

Deputy Pringle said: “The budget did not go far enough in providing what is needed for people to get by.” He was speaking on a Sinn Féin motion on domestic electricity and gas disconnections.

The deputy said: “Today disability equality charity Scope said that lives are at risk as disabled people fear they will be unable to afford to heat their homes this winter. A recent poll of 1,000 disabled adults found that 63% were worried about being able to pay their heating bills. 60% of respondents said they feel the Government is ignoring them, which says it all really.

“People have no faith in this government and no hope that things will get better. This government has completely crushed people’s spirits. It has failed every section of society in not addressing this cost-of-living crisis. And it will sadly cost lives unless we do something about it.”

He supported the motion’s proposal to introduce a windfall tax on excess profits of energy companies, and said, “There is no point in introducing a tokenistic windfall tax, just as this government has done, for fear of deterring energy companies’ investment.”

He said: “As I have said before, now is the time to renationalise the energy industry. The government should use the windfall tax as a way to do this, using money gained from the tax to invest in nationalisation. We need to take the industry back into public ownership in order to remove the profit motive and have the ability to implement price freezes as well for our citizens.

“We shouldn’t have to rely on private companies to treat our citizens fairly,” he said.

Deputy Pringle said the EU ‘solidarity contribution’ on extraordinary profits made by fossil fuels producers doesn’t go far enough, saying: “It is my firm belief that nobody should be making additional profits during an energy crisis that is severely affecting our citizens. The windfall tax should apply to all profits made above the 2019 profit figure, at the very least.

“No energy company should be profiting at the expense of others. And especially not at the expense of the most vulnerable in our society,” he said.

Deputy Pringle said he supported the motion and its measures, such as a moratorium on disconnections, the windfall tax and the reduction and cap on the price of electricity bills at summer 2021 rates.

He said: “However, as helpful as these measures would be, they don’t go far enough in addressing the systemic change that is needed in our energy industry. We need to renationalise our energy, give control back to the people and invest any money gained into a greener future.”