Soaring energy costs: The future’s not exactly merry and bright…

We’ve all had experiences over the past year regarding energy suppliers who have significantly hiked their prices. In fact, at the beginning of this month, SSE Airtricity announced an increase to its standard household electricity and gas prices leading to a typical domestic bill (yours and mine), to climb by an average of 9 per cent.

Blamed by providers on the ‘sustained increases in wholesale energy costs’, these worrying price hikes will see already financially-stressed Roscommon families like mine shelling out an extra €1,000 over the coming year, placing everyone in a very difficult situation. The Government’s paltry response (sorry, gesture) was to dole out €100 worth of credit…payable directly to providers in the New Year!

What an insult – not just to our pockets, but to our intelligence as well! Why? Because, the last time I looked, the ESB was state-owned, meaning the Government is essentially giving €100 with one hand and snatching it back with the other! Besides, when you think about it properly, that money is not actually the Government’s to give.

The powers-that-be don’t have any funds of their own. What they do have though are our taxes, so to that end, it’s cash they’ve already collected from us that they’re now very ‘generously giving back!’ The cheek!

Let me put it to you another way, readers. Our leaders’ so-called benevolence kind of smacks of when our kids were small and we, d’mammies, would slip them a tenner to go out and buy us a mother’s day gift. The little munchkins didn’t earn or save that tenner, but we handed it to them to enable them to buy us a pressie. Ergo, we bought our own pressies with our own money. Bless their innocence.

But they were our kids…our leaders are meant to be intelligent adults, and there’s absolutely no justification for them trying to hoodwink us into believing they’re being compassionate towards us.

Micheál and Leo are behaving more like Bonnie and Clyde! This pair, along with Sleeping Beauty Eamon, isn’t even ‘crediting’ our bank accounts with this money, allowing us to spend it how we wish. Nay, by allocating it directly to energy providers, they’re ensuring it goes straight back into their own coffers. I don’t know about you readers, but I have a huge issue with being told how I can spend my hard-earned wages.

Like everyone else, I struggle to pay my energy bills. I’m terrified to open them when they arrive. Therefore, as hikes of this magnitude and frequency have reached a point where they’ve now become unsustainable, my reaction to the €100 is not one of relief, rather it’s to devise a long list of places where this Government can stick their pathetic, pitiful and contrived publicity stunt.

We’re living in one of the most developed countries in the world, yet the future is not exactly merry and bright – especially given the fact that this Government has issued warnings around energy shortages leading to possible blackouts this winter.

In a time of crisis (including a pandemic), we’re being forced to cough up and pay over the odds for an essential service we may or may not receive, while at the same time, quietly swallow the fact that minted suppliers are licking their lips as they rake in the profits. Sound right?

Methinks Micheál and pals need to do one of two things over the Christmas holidays: A, come up with answers regarding this latest energy rip-off and fix it, or B, start updating their CVs.

 

See you at ‘the reek’ Charlie

Every day, as I walk my 5km, I exchange a greeting with the lovely people in my community who are also out walking or jogging. These are people who (like me) are doing their best to remain fit and healthy in a bid to extend our lives and hopefully put off the inevitable. And fair play to them…to us.

There’s a strong belief right across society, that if we exercise and consume so-called ‘superfoods’, we will reduce the threat to both our physical and our mental health. However, watching respected former RTÉ veteran reporter Charlie Bird on last week’s Late Late Show speak so eloquently and openly about his MND (Motor Neurone Disease) diagnosis, I was reduced to tears, because it brought home the fact that we can only do so much, and nature will inevitably take its course.

We all know that life has a natural end – indeed we often take this fact for granted. But it’s only when we witness this bravest of brave souls emotionally detailing his deteriorating condition that we come to realise none of us can out-manoeuvre our mortality.

That said, I believe in order for us all – walkers, runners, joggers, couch potatoes etc. – to face our fate, we must have the courage to live our lives. Devastatingly, this sometimes means being dealt a rotten hand, plunging us into a situation beyond our control.

Charlie Bird has that courage in abundance. In typical no-nonsense style, refusing to give up, Charlie, who has served this nation for 38 years, made us all a promise. He tweeted: ‘If I am still mobile in the spring, I will climb Croagh Patrick to highlight MND and other terminal illnesses. You’re all invited to join me. I love you all’.

We love you too Charlie. Your kindness and wisdom is an inspiration to us all. I hope and pray this nation gets firmly behind you, and come the spring, we will turn up in our thousands to climb that climb with you and the amazing Ms. Vicky Phelan. See you at ‘the reek’!

 

Thank you for your support and feedback!

I’d like to say how overwhelmed and humbled I am by the lovely readers who have responded so positively to my piece regarding the anti-vaxxers and Covid-deniers among us. I think it’s fair to say that I may have read the room correctly.

Given the text messages, DMs on social media, the virtual ‘high-fives’ in the street and in a supermarket queue, it seems the majority of you agree with me that this ‘culture war’ regarding Covid must come to an end.

For anyone who’s interested, walk-in clinics are open for vaccinations and boosters. You don’t need an appointment, however in order not to be standing for hours in the cold or be disappointed, log onto hse2.ie before setting off.

From my own research on this site at the time of writing, I notice Roscommon’s clinic is located at Kilbride Community Centre, Ballinderry, Fourmilehouse. This facility is open right up until Christmas Eve, and there are parking facilities on site.

Stay safe, stay well, and if you’re not wearing a mask, please stay away from me!