Wednesday, 24 November 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Micheál Carrigy (Fine Gael)
I support the comments of Senator Ahearn on childcare. It is important for it to be treated the same and given the same backup as our school sector.
I welcome the Tánaiste's comments yesterday clarifying the position of the country and refuting all the social media lies and mistruths out there. Yesterday, I spoke about businesses not knowing whether to purchase goods ahead of the Christmas rush and whether they would be closed or open. I am glad it was cleared up that that is not on the agenda. The incidence of positive cases is levelling off and hopefully no major further restrictions will need to be imposed.
I raise the issue of transport. I left home slightly later this morning to avoid getting caught up in a traffic jam. Senators coming into the city will have seen the disruption that was caused, understandably so, because the transport sector is on its knees. My family is involved in a bus company. I know the significant extra cost they have with petrol and diesel. They cannot claim back the VAT which Northern Ireland-registered bus companies can. They are in a difficult situation even competing for work.
While there is a rebate scheme, it only applies up to a maximum point. That needs to be extended because the price has gone way beyond what it was. I know the owner of a transport company whose fuel bill has increased by €20,000 a month. The industry is suffering. I have a small station at home and I see the prices first-hand. The average price is now €1.726 for petrol and €1.633 for diesel, which equates to a 27% increase in petrol and a 28% increase in diesel. Those are the highest prices since the AA start recording figures in 1991. We need to look at introducing some support measures.