Dáil debates

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

8:00 pm

Photo of Ciarán CuffeCiarán Cuffe (Minister of State , Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Minister of State , Department of Transport; Minister of State , Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Dún Laoghaire, Green Party)

That is fair enough and it is valuable to focus our attention on that area, but I would tend not to isolate the issue from the other two and it is worth considering all three of them at the same time. It is useful to draw people's attention to the challenges we face. As we have seen over the past week, things can quickly change about assumptions that might have previously been taken for granted. We need to bring back on board Irish natural gas and to look at electricity interconnection issues. I welcome this. However, there is a tendency to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds when in Opposition. I can give three examples of that.

The Deputy called for an increase in critical supplies of energy from five days to ten, which is a very valuable thing. However, it is not that long ago that he was harassing the Minister to lower energy prices in electricity and elsewhere. A balance must be struck between bringing in the appropriate reductions and also storing energy for future use. I do not think the Deputy can hammer us for not lowering prices and at the same time demand the imposition of very direct and substantial costs on the electricity producers and the oil distributors in the first instance. That is one example.

Another example is the call to expand and renew the grids nationwide. We have had a very public campaign in Meath and elsewhere about planning issues in respect of new pylons for the distribution of electricity to and from the north west. I understand members of Fine Gael have sided strongly with protesters on this issue, yet we need to reinforce the grid dramatically. We need to renew the grid that already exists, yet there seems to be support at local level from the two main parties in Opposition for the points made by the community.

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