Smokeless fuel restrictions will hit struggling families

Dear Madam,

I am dismayed and angry that in the present economic climate the Government plans to introduce smokeless fuel restrictions in towns in Ireland, including Mullingar.

This will have a detrimental effect on most of the people and families that the [St Vincent de Paul] society helps on a weekly basis. My research informs me that a bag of normal coal costs circa €12 whereas a bag of ‘smokeless’ coal costs circa €17, a difference of €5. The average family needs to burn a minimum of two bags per week, making a difference of €10 per week; this certainly will lead to increased demands on SVP funds. The news comes at the same time that the League of Credit Union reports that many are borrowing to pay for essentials. Added to this the decrease in the number of weeks ‘fuel allowance’ is paid leaves one wondering have those in power lost touch with the ‘grass roots’.

Some experts may say that the ‘smokeless’ coal is more efficient, but I am afraid that the people the society helps, in the main, are not fuel efficiency or environmental experts. From an environmental viewpoint I am informed (but cannot confirm ) that a factory close to Mullingar burns cheap coal at 22 times the total amount burnt in the town!

I should have thought that the demise of the Green Party in Government would have put an end to such foolish proposals, especially in a time of financial crisis and struggling families. All proposals today should either be of a job-creating or cost-cutting nature and not include further hardship on the many struggling families.

Yours etc,

Enda Breslin

SVP area president


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