During the Autumn General Meeting of the Irish Episcopal Conference, in welcoming certain Budget 2023 measures that were announced by Government on 27 September last, specifically to provide financial support to households, businesses, sports organisations and voluntary organisations facing rapid inflationary energy costs, bishops noted the lack of assistance for community facilities which are not grant aided. Such public utilities include parish centres, community halls and church building themselves.
Bishops stated that, “especially during winter church buildings are frequented by the homeless and vulnerable to keep warm and to be safe. With soaring heating costs, the numbers seeking to spend part of their day in such settings can be expected to rise dramatically. However, the related energy costs are also rising rapidly to the point where it is difficult to see how drastic closures can be avoided.”
Bishops concluded, “To address this dilemma, we urge Government to make assistance available so that these vital community resources can remain open on a sustainable basis throughout this stressful period, and to offer grant support to equip such facilities to be more energy efficient in the future.”