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Government to consider windfall tax on energy companies - Taoiseach

The Government will consider introducing a windfall tax on energy companies in September's Budget, according to the Taoiseach.

Micheál Martin said while the Coalition wants to see more investment being made in renewable energy, it recognises that "significant profits are being made all around" by energy companies.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to the Blasket Islands in Kerry, he said that the Government will consider "a range of issues and will give examination to the issue of a windfall tax".

Mr Martin also said that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) "simply has to be considered" in light of the energy security crisis brought about by the war in Ukraine.

He did not specially refer to the proposed Shannon LNG project, which is strongly opposed by his coalition partners in the Green Party. However, he said LNG is an option that has to be considered.

"The Programme for Government allows for LNG but without fracking. In that context, I think we will have to give consideration to LNG, given the energy security issue that has arisen from the war," Mr Martin told reporters.

"All of Europe is looking at LNG, but the type of energy we look at and the mode of delivery may differ. So I am not going to get in to any specific project, other than to say that LNG that uses fuel that is not derived from fracking is consistent with the Programme for Government," he added.

Micheál Martin was speaking as he visited the Blasket Islands

Mr Martin said the energy crisis brought on by the war has "changed dramatically, in the short term, the energy security question".

"What is going on across Europe and the world is a greater increase in LNG facilities and it is one option along with a number of options that simply have to be considered in light of the energy security situation."

Mr Martin added that strong tax returns will allow some opportunity to take pressure off people in September's Budget.

Asked about the Exchequer figures published yesterday, showing a surplus of €5 billion at the end of July, he said that it was "good news that the revenues have remained strong this year, notwithstanding challenges in terms of the cost of living".

He said the Government is preparing a comprehensive Budget package that would have a focus on tax relief and how to reduce the cost of living for families, particularly those with children.

"The revenue figures do give us some opportunity and will give us some opportunity in the Budget and the cost-of-living package in September to take pressure off people," he added.

Sinn Féin TD Louise O'Reilly said that she would prefer to hear more about a push for renewables and clean energy production.

"We want to see more effort made by the Government, in actually coming out and supporting measures that’ll deliver renewables," she told RTÉ’s Drivetime.

Meanwhile, climate change activists have set up a temporary camp in north Kerry to protest against controversial plans to build a liquified natural gas terminal in the Shannon estuary.

A decision is due next month from An Bord Pleanála on the €650m proposed development by US owned New Fortress Energy.

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