Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has called on Fine Gael to confirm that it will not move to hike up the rates of duty on diesel fuel, claiming that to do so would amount to an attack on communities all across the border.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “There has been some speculation that the Government will move to hike the rates of duty on diesel fuel in the upcoming budget. That would be a mistake for a number of reasons in my view.
“Firstly, all along the border small businesses are already struggling with the effects of the plunging value of sterling. The one thing that has kept cross border shoppers coming to towns and villages in Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Cavan and Louth is the fact that even with the weaker pound, good value is still available in fuel, most notably diesel.
“If the Government now moves to eradicate that advantage, the flow of people from the North and the money they spend in these communities will stop. It is as simple as that.
“The other issue is the fact that many people, especially in rural areas, have made the extra investment in diesel vehicles based on a reasonable expectation that diesel would continue to be more affordable than unleaded petrol. With motor insurance out of control, any further addition to the cost of motoring would simply put some people off the road. In border areas, where the public transport infrastructure is virtually non-existent, this is unacceptable.
“My final concern about this policy is the bonus it would represent for the illicit fuel industry. Any additional cost for consumer diesel will act as a further financial incentive for these thugs. Once again, it is communities in border areas who bear the brunt of the environmental impact of this crime in the form of dumped toxic sludge and polluted water courses.
“It is very clear that those who make the case for increasing the cost of diesel have not thought through the full implications. I intend to make the case very strongly within my own party that Fianna Fáil should oppose any such policy.”