Taoiseach Michéal Martin has warned of a harsh winter after the government survived a no-confidence motion in the Dail.
Climax on RTÉ One’s prime time Tonight, Mr Martin defended the government’s record on housing, healthcare and its response to the pandemic and war in Ukraine after the Dail voted 88 to 66 with one abstention against a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence.
During a quick question-and-answer session with host Sarah McInerney, he said voters didn’t want another election, saying “many people appreciate what the government has done in the face of an unprecedented pandemic.”
He jabbed at his critics, adding: “We are a serious government. Fianna Fáil is a serious political party that believes in substance, not shallow politics or PR stunts. I think Sinn Féin is a shady party.”
Citing the government’s response to the war in Ukraine, the pandemic and the living conditions crisis, he added: “What people need is a living expenses package in parallel with the budget at the end of September.
“If we had general elections now, we wouldn’t have this living expenses package or a budget.”
Referring to the cost-of-living crisis, he said the government has paid $2.5 billion so far.
However, he warned that the ongoing war in Ukraine and its impact on energy prices and the global economy pose a serious challenge in the coming months.
He defended the government’s decision to hold off until the end of September before announcing the cost-of-living package and budget as a strategy that will “deliver a comprehensive package to ease the pressure – particularly to get people through the winter”.
“We think that the winter will be very difficult … given the energy situation and the Russian approach to gas, for example, we have to look at it in the medium term.
“And I’m worried about the winter,” he said of energy costs.
“We need a package that eases the pressure on families, especially around childcare and social protection,” he said of the one-off living expenses package.
He added that it won’t be until spring 2023 “before we get out of this livelihood crisis” fueled by the war in Ukraine.
However, he said the Irish economy has recovered well from the impact of the pandemic and said it will provide a cushion “over the winter period with the resources we have”.
He acknowledged that the housing crisis is “the number one social issue facing this government,” but said his government is “doing everything we can” to address what he says is a supply shortage problem stay.
However, he ruled out a reinstatement of the ban on evictions for tenants that was enacted during the pandemic by emergency law, as it was unconstitutional under the current circumstances.
When asked about the record number of patients on trolleys and waiting lists, he said the pandemic was and is having a “significant impact” on health services.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/taoiseach-micheal-martin-warns-of-tough-winter-ahead-41835806.html Taoiseach Micheál Martin warns of a harsh winter