The Government has agreed a temporary emergency support measures to assist hauliers with the rising cost of fuel.

Under the scheme, €100 per week will be paid for every heavy goods vehicle listed on a road haulage operator's licence.

The payment will be made over a period of eight weeks, at which point a review will take place.

The total cost of the scheme to the exchequer will be €18m.

"The past two years have presented many challenges for the sector," Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said.

"Brexit, Covid-19 and now the crisis in Ukraine have put a cumulative pressure on the haulage industry," the Minister said.

"Today’s measure reflects Government understanding of that pressure and its recognition of the important role that the haulage industry plays in keeping the country going," he added.

Earlier this week, members of the Irish Road Haulage Association met with the Minister for Finance to express their concern about the rising cost of diesel as well as the security of supply.

This afternoon the President of the IRHA said the assistance would help, but added that hauliers need and wanted a lot more.

Eugene Drennan said members were dealing with a range of cost increases, arising from the war in Ukraine, including in the cost of Adblue, an additive used in trucks to help clean the emissions.

Mr Drennan added the customers of haulage firms would also have to pay more to help defray the rising costs.

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Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the Irish Planned Contractors Association has said he cannot understand the justification for not giving the support to his members.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Brian Coogan said they have been trying to talk to the Government for the last year.

"Construction is an integral part of what we need, homes have to be built, schools have to be built," he said.

"But they won't be built if the Government does not protect construction as well."

Fuel body unhappy with 'gouging' comments

A meeting between the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, and representatives of the fuel industry has concluded.

The meeting came amid allegations that some fuel suppliers had been engaging in price gouging this week, by deliberately putting up prices ahead of an announcement by the Government of a cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel.

The claims have been strongly rejected by the industry, which has stated allegations of profiteering were simply not true.

Minister McGrath said the Government has been given a commitment and guarantee that reductions in excise duties on petrol and diesel will be passed onto consumers in all cases.

The minister was speaking after a meeting with petrol retailers and with the representative body, Fuels for Ireland.

Mr McGrath described the talks as open, honest and forthright.

He said retailers explained that in some cases the reduction in excise duties announced by the Government earlier this week might not have been passed on at the pumps yet, because the fuel had been purchased at the higher excise rate.

However, he said, in those cases retailers had promised that the reduction would be passed on in the coming days.

"We have received a commitment and a guarantee that, in all instances, the full effect of the excise reduction, if it hasn't been passed on to date given the timing of the purchase of the stock, it will be within a matter of days," Minister McGrath told RTÉ News. "The Government will be monitoring that very closely."

He said the Government delegation had emphasised the need for transparency in passing on the excise reductions to consumers.

Speaking to RTÉ News after this afternoon's meeting, Kevin McPartlan, CEO of Fuels for Ireland, said the sector had explained to Minister McGrath that the price of fuel is dictated by much more than just excise duty.

He said he had told the minister that global markets play a big role in pricing and this week they had been fluctuating wildly and had almost inevitably been going up.

He said the fuel sector had also told the minister that it would take a few days for the excise cut to come through to the system, but it is being applied by all members of Fuels for Ireland.

He added that he had given a cast iron guarantee that in all parts of the supply chain where Fuels for Ireland members have control, the excise duty cut has been passed on.

Mr McPartlan said the industry is one of the most open and transparent in the country when it comes to pricing because prices are so publicly displayed and this keeps margins very tight and really sharp.

The meeting also discussed the issue of security of supply and the fact that there has been pressure on supply as companies unwind their supply relationships with Russian oil companies, and also because there has been a spike in demand as prices increased.

He reiterated that there is adequate supply to meet normal buying patterns, but that we need to be careful we don't spike demand.

Mr McPartlan said he thinks the Government understands that communication channels now need to be kept open between it and the industry.

Ministers of State Robert Troy, Ossian Smyth and Damien English also took part in the meeting.

A separate meeting also took place between the Ministers and the Irish Petrol Retailers Association.

Earlier, Fuels for Ireland wrote to Taoiseach Mícheál Martin to express its members' deep unhappiness at what it claims have been misleading statements about the sector.

The organisation also said that comments made by Mr Martin suggesting the actions of the organisation's members were morally reprehensible should be clarified or withdrawn.

In the letter seen by RTÉ News, Mr McPartlan said it is "simply not the case" that Fuels for Ireland members had been engaged in any sort of profiteering.

"To perpetuate the myth that Fuels for Ireland members are profiteering from the tragic plight of the people of Ukraine and the threat to peace in Europe is offensive," he wrote.

Yesterday, as he arrived for a two-day EU Summit in Versailles, the Taoiseach told reporters that any price gouging by fuel retailers following the excise cut was "morally reprehensible" in the context of a barbaric war and he called on it to cease.

His comments came amid claims that some fuel retailers had increased their prices on Wednesday morning, ahead of the announcement by the Government of a 15 cent cut in excise on diesel and a 20 cent reduction in excise on petrol.

This prompted calls from some politicians for the actions of fuel firms to be investigated.

Today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he told the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting that if anyone is engaging in price fixing, it is a matter for the Competition and Consumer authority to investigate.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said last night that it had received 29 contacts from the public about the pricing activities of service stations in the past two days.

"These contacts have been forwarded to our Competition Enforcement and Mergers Division where they will be examined as part of the complaint screening process," it said.

The Taoiseach has said that the Government is seeking flexibility from the EU on VAT on fuels in order to further ease the burden on consumers.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said he fully stands with the Taoiseach on his comments describing price gouging on fuel as "morally reprehensible".

Speaking as he arrived at the second day of an EU summit in Versailles, Minister Donohoe said the Government had invested over €300 million of taxpayers money at a time of huge risk for everyone.

"We need to make sure every cent of that makes a difference at the pump. We all need to play our part."

On Ireland's appeal for flexibility from the EU on the VAT regime for fuels, Mr Donohoe said a directive on VAT was "approaching" but he would not be drawn on a timeframe for any changes.

Mr Donohoe is attending the Summit in his role as President of the Eurogroup as EU leaders discuss economic matters.

He said the eurozone area economy will still grow despite the uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine.

The minister said the Eurogroup would signal on Monday that it is willing to alter its plans if necessary in a world that had changed.

Additional reporting Sandra Hurley, Paschal Sheehy