Derry fuel poverty protest on Saturday as oil & gas prices soar

Derry Against Fuel Poverty are to stage a second protest in the city centre this weekend as oil prices rocket across the north west.

As of Thursday afternoon, 500 litres of oil in Derry had risen to a new record high of over £460 while in Inishowen it is now also well over 500 euro for the same amount.

This comes just days after Firmus energy customers saw their gas bills rise for the fourth time in a year by a huge 33%.

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Derry Against Fuel Poverty is a non-aligned group of local people who set up the campaign due to the huge pressure the price rises were placing on local people.

Protestors at the Derry Against Fuel Poverty rally in Guildhall Square on Saturday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2206GS – 135
Protestors at the Derry Against Fuel Poverty rally in Guildhall Square on Saturday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2206GS – 135
Protestors at the Derry Against Fuel Poverty rally in Guildhall Square on Saturday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2206GS – 135

Announcing the protest this Saturday at 4pm in Waterloo Place, Sinead Quinn, spokesperson for Derry Against Fuel Poverty said: “Whilst we recognise the global context has shifted dramatically in the past week, we continue to beat the drum for the people of Derry who are still experiencing severe hardship in the face of rising household costs.

“In fact, bills are only climbing higher with oil, petrol and diesel prices skyrocketing and more hikes on the way.”

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Sinead said the group - which staged its first protest in the city centre last month - were being contacted on a “regular basis by people who are chronically ill, mothers with young children and working people who simply can’t afford to heat, eat or light their homes”.

“It is a frightening and unprecedented time for many,” Sinead said, adding:

Households are feeling the effects as oil and gas prices continue to rise.
Households are feeling the effects as oil and gas prices continue to rise.
Households are feeling the effects as oil and gas prices continue to rise.

“We recognise that this is a “global crisis”. However, it cannot be allowed to stand as some kind of rationale for the lack of appropriate and timely intervention by our government. As we seen most recently during the pandemic, appropriate and timely responses at all levels of government were extremely important to managing that particular global crisis at local level. This “can’t do” approach at Stormont must be replaced by resourcefulness and innovation.

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It’s fair to assume that our political representatives can’t even begin to really understand what it’s like to be poor. A cold house and an empty fridge serves as a stark reminder of the situation we’re facing on a daily basis. When MPs are getting a raise of £2,200 and MLAs are seeing £500 extra in their pockets, the most vulnerable people in our society literally can’t keep up with prepay meters running out of credit. Times are bleak.”

Sinead said Stormont had the time and money to deal appropriately with this cost of living crisis. “It was forecast early in 2021 and being felt keenly in our pockets in early Autumn 2021. The political parties can blame each other all they want but we won’t forget the opportunities that were turned down, like the opportunity to reinstate the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift cut and the ability to adequately address the crisis with a wider energy support scheme. Our politicians forget who put them in their jobs, let’s remind them.”

Derry Against Fuel Poverty has asked people to join them for an hour on Saturday “ to help send a fierce message to all levels of government - Council, Executive and Westminster. All welcome”.

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Oil and gas prices rocket again as Derry and Inishowen households feel the pinch