'shift the blame' | 

Taoiseach says Sinn Féin 'falling into Putin trap' by blaming Government for living costs

Mr Martin denied the Government had been slow to act in tackling cost-of-living pressures

Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has accused Sinn Féin of taking the same line of attack on the ongoing energy crisis as the Russian Ambassador .

Mr Martin urged Sinn Féin not “buckle under pressure” from the “deliberately and premeditatedly” created crises caused by Vladimir Putin’s war in the Ukraine.

During a Leader’s Questions debate in the Dáil, the Taoiseach hit back at Sinn deputy leader Pearse Doherty who demanded the Government introduce an emergency Budget to address the cost of living crisis.

Mr Doherty highlighted the plight of people who have to choose between a bowl of cornflakes for their children or attending a hospital appointment. He said the Taoiseach was “out of touch” and needs to do more to support families and workers.

The Taoiseach responded by noting Mr Doherty did not reference the cause of the current inflation and energy crisis was Putin’s war in Ukraine.

He said this was in line with comments made by Russian Ambassador Yuri Filatov who accused Mr Martin of seeking to “shift the blame” on to Russia for the increase in energy costs.

Taoiseach said Mr Doherty did not mention the war in Ukraine because his “objective is to lay all of the blame on the (Irish) Government – just like the Russian ambassador”.

“The Russian ambassador and Russian President would have us all believe that this is the fault of Western governments and we need to be careful that we don't fall into the Putin trap of laying all the blame domestically because he wants Western states to the buckle, to buckle under the pressure that he deliberately and premeditatedly created,” the Taoiseach said.

“He wants to create an energy crisis. He wants to create a food crisis and he wants to create a migration crisis. All part of the one immoral and unjustifiable war,” he added.

The Taoiseach also warned of the potential threat of famine in Africa due to a food crisis caused by the war.

Addressing Mr Martin in the Dail, Mr Doherty said families were facing "soul destroying" choices as they struggled to feed their children.

"As families keep an eye to every euro they spend, yesterday you told them to prepare for a rocky road ahead, to be ready for a new era of high fuel and energy costs," he said.

"This is astonishing because workers and families have been walking the rocky road of extortionate fuel and energy costs for the best part of a year now.

"To tell people, as you did, who are already struggling to pay their bills, that they will have to tighten their belts even further, is painfully out of touch, while at the same time ruling out from you, Taoiseach, further government action until October at the very earliest.

"Taoiseach, does this Government understand the pressure that real families and workers are under right across the state?"

Mr Doherty said families could "not hang on for another five months" for further support measures.

"Taoiseach, the Government's approach to this crisis has failed," he added.

"It's been piecemeal. It's been slow, it's been sluggish, and your measures haven't made a dent in the cost that people face.

"So now is the time Taoiseach, now is the time for a real and comprehensive plan of action.

"We need a mini Budget right now aimed at getting costs down right across the board. There is room within the public finances for the Government to act."

Mr Martin denied the Government had been slow to act, highlighting that the steps it has taken to tackle cost-of-living pressures since last October add up to €2.5bn.

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