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Varadkar: Ireland’s cost of living up to 40% higher than EU average

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has admitted that Ireland’s cost of living is 30 to 40 percent higher than the EU average.

The remarks were made during Leader’s Questions on Tuesday, in response to criticisms by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.

McDonald slammed the government’s record on the cost of living, highlighting research by Unite the Union, which found that wages in real terms had fallen by around €76 per week last year due to the ongoing pattern of inflation – a point which Varadkar conceded.

“Real incomes fell last year,” admitted the Taoiseach.

“In other words, prices rose faster than incomes did. That was the first year that was the case in a very long time.”

However, he added: “It will not be the case this year – we are confident that this year we will see a real increase in incomes again.”

The Taoiseach went on to claim that with public sector pay and the minimum wage set to rise this year, although inflation was still going up, low-income and state workers would still have more money ultimately.

“We expect inflation to be around 5% this year,” he said.

“The national minimum wage will go up by 7% this year and a public sector pay deal to be negotiated. We expect to see real incomes rise again this year as they have increased in previous years, which means that most people will be better off.”

Varadkar added: “The Deputy is right to say that the cost of living in Ireland is high. It has been high for a very long time; maybe 30% or 40% higher than the EU average. However, incomes here are also 30% to 40% higher on average and that also needs to be borne in mind.”

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