Government ‘worst in class’ for providing energy crisis supports, Pearse Doherty says

Minister for Finance says Sinn Féin’s yet to be published alternative budget ‘has more instalments than Star Wars’

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty have clashed in the Dáil over a proposed EU windfall tax on energy companies and Ireland’s low EU ranking for supports for consumers during the cost of living crisis.

Mr Donohoe claimed Sinn Féin’s alternative budget, which has not yet been published, “has more instalments than Star Wars”.

He made the claim after Mr Doherty highlighted an updated analysis by the Financial Times and EU economic think tank Bruegel which showed that Ireland is the worst EU member state in terms of providing supports for households and businesses facing soaring energy bills.

“You are the finance minister who has the worst record in Europe,” Mr Doherty said. “You are at the bottom of the class.”


Mr Donohoe insisted that the measures used in the analysis “are well known to be an inaccurate measure for how you can look at national income within our country”.

“The measure used there is GDP and modified domestic demand is a more appropriate metric for how our national income is measured here in Ireland,” he said.

He said the “measures we have put in place are equivalent to around 1 per cent of our national income, not 0.5 per cent as in the study”.

But Mr Doherty said that even if they used the recommended method “you’d still be below Slovakia. You’d still be one of the worst in Europe”.

“You can dice and slice these statistics all you want” but “we’re still way behind what other countries have done” and many were borrowing to support businesses and households,” the Donegal TD said. “We need you to cut electricity prices back to where they were pre-crisis and cap them at that level.”

He asked “will you do a U-turn, do the right thing” and follow the trend in Europe where caps had been introduced in France, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands, Czechia, Slovakia and other countries.

Mr Donohoe said in reply that “I keep on hearing talk of the Sinn Féin budget and it hasn’t yet appeared. The budget that you’re trailing at the moment has more instalments than Star Wars”.

He said Sinn Féin was demanding an emergency budget before the summer “and the country waits on with interest – maybe I’m overstating that – but some of us wait on with interest as to when you’re going to bring forward your overall proposals”.

He added: “What I’m concerned about which is my responsibility, which is not one that you have, which is that anything we bring forward is sustainable, affordable and works for consumers and our country and doesn’t create new risks”.

But Mr Doherty said the Minister can “dress this up all you want” but his party had put forward proposal after proposal for months on the cost of living crisis and the Government had ignored them all.

He said the Dutch and Danes in the last 72 hours had announced they would introduce price certainty for consumers.

Mr Donohoe said Mr Doherty was “busy trying to devise a budget that brings together all the figures that can’t be added up. It involves going against the advice of overheating our economy and not creating new risks tomorrow”. He claimed Mr Doherty was busy “imagining U-turns that haven’t happened” and said “there isn’t an easy or simple solution” to the challenges faced.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times