Published: Thu, 19 March 2015
In co-hosting the annual St. Patrick’s Day gathering of Irish business leaders in Brussels with Ibec yesterday (Wednesday), Seán Kelly MEP highlighted Ireland’s improved economic outlook and acknowledged the sacrifices made by Irish people and businesses to get the economy back on track. The Ireland South MEP said that efforts should be made to ensure that growth is sustainable and responsible, while appealing to the business community to prevent a return of the “Rip-off Ireland” culture of inflated prices that was synonymous with the so-called “boom” years.
“There is a great deal of positivity in Ireland at the moment. Our employment rate is now lower than the EU average at less than 10 per cent, we are seeing continuous growth in Irish exports, and many in the business community will testify to the growth in the economy. However, we cannot lose the run of ourselves again,” said Mr Kelly, the Leader of the Fine Gael delegation in the European Parliament.
“In our nation’s capital, I see fuel prices have increased in the last few weeks alone. Diesel was around 1.16 per litre and this week I saw it on sale for 1.30, 1.31 or even 1.33c. Petrol prices in some areas of Cork have hit 1.33 or up to 1.40 in Dublin. With oil prices down, it makes no sense. AA Ireland’s survey of fuel prices in Ireland for this month put unleaded at an average cost of 1.36 and diesel at 1.29c, which indicates some retailers are hiking prices way above average.
“Hotel prices too, often a valid indicator of rising consumer costs, have shot up in recent months in Dublin to excessive prices. There is no inflation to warrant it. There is no justification for it. Yet consumers still face a high cost of living, and our visiting tourists too. Speaking directly to the business people and to their representatives in Ibec here tonight, I would warn against any unjust price hikes as the economic outlook continues to improve at home.”
The MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Industry and Trade committees, went on to praise the Business and Employers organisation Ibec for its belief in Irish business prospects and positivity in steering the business community through some of the most challenging recent years in Ireland.
“Ireland is in a competitive position – we have to maintain our competitiveness and be savvy in that sense. If we lose competitiveness, we could lose it forever,” Mr Kelly added.