The Government’s plan, announced this evening, to mitigate the cost of living is essentially anti-rural and anti-motorist, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice TD.

The elected representative for the Roscommon-Galway constituency was reacting to the Government’s €505 million package which is set to give people a €200 credit on their electricity bills, place a temporary 20% reduction on public transport fees as well as a €125 increase to those on fuel allowance.

Speaking in the wake of the announcement, Fitzmaurice said: “While the measures announced are welcome, the package as a whole offers little to nothing for those living in rural Ireland who have no other choice but to get in their car in the morning and commute to work.

“For rural dwellers, there is no bus that passes their house which can bring them to work in the morning and bring them home in the evening. What benefit is this package to them?

“I have no issue with cutting the cost of public transport. In the main, people in cities have no daily requirement for a car. In Dublin for example, they have access to the luas, the dart, regular bus services and trains.

“But if you have no other option but to own a car, there is nothing in this package for you,” he said.

If you look at it from an agricultural viewpoint, there is also nothing on offer, Fitzmaurice added.

Continuing, he said: “The cost of living has not just gone up in urban areas. It is having a massive impact on rural life, and arguably it is placing a bigger burden on rural Ireland and the agricultural sector.

“The cost of diesel, both white and green, has risen continually for months. The price of fertiliser has skyrocketed. Agricultural contractors and hauliers alike are under serious pressure given the rising fuel costs.

“It is a case of the tail wagging the dog, with the Greens fully in control. The rural TDs of both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail need to reflect seriously on this package and consider their options.

“It appears as if Micheal Martin is just pandering to the Greens in order to stay in power.”

Concluding Fitzmaurice said: “The increase in the fuel allowance is a welcome bonus, particularly for the elderly of our communities.

“But for the people who get up early and go to work, as Varadkar puts it so often, this package offers little relief. Everyone will receive the €200 credit on their electricity bill.

“The planned widening of the Working Family Payment thresholds has been brought forward. But what about families who find themselves outside that threshold. A couple with two children, earning €35,000 a year, with a mortgage to pay and car to maintain will have no respite under this plan.

“Where is the imagination in Government when it comes to constructing viable plans which will have a positive impact on these people’s lives?” Fitzmaurice concluded.

For further information contact Michael Fitzmaurice at 086-1914565

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