Derry MLA secure accelerated passage for fuel costs bill

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has secured accelerated passage for emergency legislation that would unlock Stormont cash for households across the North that have been hit with increased fuel and energy bills.

The Foyle MLA made the argument for accelerated passage at the Executive Office Committee and Communities Committee at Stormont last week.

The bill, which would amend the Financial Assistance Act to give MLAs the power to designate a department to take forward energy support schemes, has been submitted to the Speaker. It is hoped it will be tabled this week before the end of the Assembly mandate but may require weekend sittings.

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Mark H Durkan said: “People and families across Northern Ireland are currently experiencing an unprecedented increase in fuel and energy prices which is making the cost of living unbearable for far too many in our communities.

Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan. DER2030GS - 012

“I am delighted that other parties have supported our efforts to address this emergency and following representations to the Executive Office Committee and Communities Committee today, that our bill has been granted accelerated passage.

“The most effective way to deal with the emergency we are facing is the nomination of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. But we cannot stand idly by waiting for something that may never happen while hard-pressed families and households in our communities are forced further into poverty, particularly when the Executive has significant sums of unallocated resource available to it.

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“I will use every power and every tool available to me as a legislator to get this bill over the line and get emergency support out to everyone and every household that needs it.”