The dramatic growth in energy prices since the outbreak of war in Ukraine will create serious issues for input costs in transport, industry and farming sectors, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.
Mr Martin, speaking on Thursday morning, said there had been “exponential growth” in energy prices since the beginning of the conflict.
“In the teeth of the war they are growing even further,” he said.
Asked if the energy issue would force the Government to revisit controversial forms of fuel such as Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), Mr Martin said the Government needed to ensure that the economy continued to operate and was not ruling out any particular form of energy at this moment in time.
“At this point of time we are moving out of the worst of the winter,” he said but added there are “very serious issues” around input costs in transport, industry and farming.
Asked if the Government was preparing contingency plans, including the possibility of rationing, he said it was premature to consider such questions.
“As things stand, we have different sources (of energy) and that is not under threat now,” he said.
Mr Martin said he expected “high numbers” of refugees from Ukraine to come to Ireland over the coming period, especially in the light of increased estimates of the number of people expected to flee the country.
The Taoiseach said the “continuing barbaric attack” on people of Ukraine was “shocking”.
He pointed in particular to an attack on a maternity hospital, where 15 new-born children had to be evacuated into an underground shelter with one woman giving birth there.
“We are looking at a very serious humanitarian challenge,” he said. “We are looking at very large numbers and we do have to respond as best we can as a country.
The Taoiseach also paid tribute to outgoing Labour leader Alan Kelly who last night announced he was standing down.
Saying he was taken by surprise by the announcement, Mr Martin said he rang Mr Kelly on Thursday morning and expressed empathy with his position.
“I want to thank him for his public service as leader of the Labour Party during a very difficult time in Ireland
“It is fair to say he put the country before his short-term political advantage.”
He said Mr Kelly was not a person who was in politics for immediate gain.
“I wish him well. He is a very effective parliamentarian. Politics has its ups and downs.” He said he was sure Mr Kelly would “bounce back in some form or another.”