Planned toll increases on Irish roads are “fundamentally unfair” with people already under pressure due to the rising cost of living.
Eight of the 11 tolled roads around the country will see charges increasing next year.
It will see the price for private cars rising by 10c on most public/private partnership roads, including the M1, M4 and N25.
There will be no increase in the M50 toll for cars that use tags – but the cost will increase to €2.70 for account-registered vehicles and €3.20 for all others.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the increases are yet another hit for people who are already struggling.
“It is just hiking up the costs of living for ordinary people who don’t have a choice,” he said.
“Workers commuting, for example into, Dublin. These could potentially be very serious increases in the cost of living along with lots of other costs of living that are rising at the moment.”
“I just think it is fundamentally unfair. It is not a fair way to fund infrastructure.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett rejected the idea that the tolls are a way to encourage people out of the cars – warning that Ireland’s public transport system remains “chronically inadequate”.
“We have had a lot of charges now imposed of people,” he said. “Whether it is bin charges, they tried to put in water charges, you are talking about energy price hikes and now you are talking about these toll increases.
“It is all often done in the name of environmental action but in actuality, if the alternatives aren’t there, whether it is retrofit, whether it is public transport or ways in which you have alternatives, all it ends up doing is having a punishing cost of living increase on the people who can least afford it.
“I just think that is not fair and in fact, it turns people off the climate agenda because people say, well actually the climate is just being used as a way of squeezing money out of me.
“I just think that is ultimately bad if you are trying to win people over the climate action.”
He said people already pay for Irish roads through general taxation – and insisted the tolls on public/private partnership roads do nothing but line the pockets of private companies.
“It is all part of a more general rise in the cost of living and of course, people’s wages aren’t increasing by that amount, so this is further exacerbating the difficulties for people in terms of the cost of living,” he said.
“People are paying twice so I don’t see how it is justified and I think a fairer way to fund infrastructure and services is through central income-related taxation – which at least has the benefit of people paying according to their means.”