Fuel Poverty-Paddy Healy Replies to Minister Rabitte
Below is an unedited version of my letter published in Irish Times to-day Dec 28
Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Minister Rabitte (Irish Times letters Dec 27) seeks to contradict the piece by Fintan O’Toole on fuel poverty (Irish Times December 20)
The Labour- Fine Gael government has introduced two cuts in fuel allowances since coming to power. From September, the smokeless fuel allowance was abolished and the annual allowance of free units was reduced from 2400 to 1800. In Budget 2012, the heating period was reduced by 6 weeks. Fuel allowance is a means tested payment. Only the poor are entitled to this benefit.
The piece of research to which Minister Rabitte and Fintan O’Toole refer is“Fuel Poverty, Older People and Cold Weather: An all-island analysis”, (at http://www.publichealth.ie). It found that the excess winter death rate in the Republic for the winter of 2006/7 was 1,281. Of these, 1,216 were aged over-65. The majority died of cardiovascular and respiratory illness – cold-related conditions. The fuel allowance in the year in question was only fractionally less than that now available and fuel prices are now much higher.
During the new year, 2012, the hundredth anniversary of the proposal by Connolly and Larkin to the Irish TUC meeting in Clonmel that a Labour Party should be founded will occur. It is scarcely credible that a party which claims Connolly as founder should be cutting fuel allowances to the poor. This is all the more so as the Labour Party, just over a year ago when in opposition, introduced a private members motion in Dáil Éireann (October 12, 2010) calling on the government to increase fuel allowances!
Fintan O’Toole was right to refer to refer to “the unacceptable reality that current policies are making Ireland a cold house for basic decency.”