Winter of discontent | 

Eamon Ryan rules out electricity and gas price caps, accuses Sinn Féin of following ‘Tory approach’

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has ruled out price caps on electricity and gas charges this winter

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan© PA


Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has ruled out price caps on electricity and gas charges this winter.

And he accused Sinn Féin of “following a Tory Government approach” by advocating a cap on domestic energy bills.

British PM Liz Truss has just announced a price cap, with Sinn Féin Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty pointing out it has been approved as party of the EU toolbox – and introduced by a host of member states.

He accused Mr Ryan of having “Tories on the brain,” asking: “Is it because you’re in bed with the Tories here?” – thought to be a reference to coalition with Fine Gael.

“It is very similar to the Tory party, what you're looking to do,” Mr Ryan said.

“In fact, Jacob Rees-Mogg this morning set out pretty much the same policy for Northern Ireland. You're following a Tory government approach.

“I don't agree with it,” Mr Ryan said.

“The first problem is that it would actually benefit the better-off, who tend to use more energy, who tend to have the bigger houses and who tend to have the biggest bills.

“They would benefit most from the approach that you're suggesting.

"Secondly, I think the Tory party approach would benefit the energy industry.

"That is something we don't need to do at this time.

"What we need to do is to apply windfall charges and actually give that money back to our people rather than providing a cap and a free pass in any amount after that.” Mr Doherty said however that Austria, France, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Denmark had all introduced price caps in order to protect their citizens this winter.

The Government needs to act decisively, he said.

“You need to cut electricity prices back to pre-crisis levels and kept them at that level to help get families through this winter.”

The cap to bill was “a simple and straightforward plan to help over two million households reduce their electricity bills and would give certainty to households this winter,” he said.

“In the last 48 hours the Dutch and the Danes have announced price certainty for their citizens by cutting and capping electricity prices.

“What households are begging for is certainty that they will be able to make it through the winter. That is what a cap will do.” He added: “It is the right choice. It is the choice that many countries across Europe are making.” Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy raised the issue of standing charges imposed by electricity companies before any charge for supply.

“A standing charge of €700 in some cases is mad. The standing charge has nothing to do with the price of energy,” she said.

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