A man living in Northern Ireland is mounting a legal challenge against the State over the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
A pre-action letter was sent to the Minister of Social Protection Regina Doherty this afternoon from Phoenix Law, a firm based in Belfast, on behalf of "an Irish national", a man who lives in Co. Armagh and works in Co. Louth.
The man cannot access the payment, despite holding a PPS number and having proof of paying PRSI in the Republic of Ireland.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have confirmed the emergency Covid-19 payment of €350 per week for workers who have lost their jobs due to the crisis, is only available to people working and resident in the State, meaning that potentially thousands of cross-border workers would not be eligible for the payment.
Phoenix Law argues that this stance is unconstitutional.
The letter "seeks to challenge the continual failure by you to provide our client with Covid payments as per government guidance", noting their client "seeks the same access and entitlements that his fellow workers are entitled to during this national crisis."
The government have until 2pm on Monday to respond by ensuring that Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payments will be made to their client and backdated to March 17.
"If you fail to do so, we will issue judicial review proceedings without further notice and fix you with the costs of same," the letter reads.
The grounds for the legal challenge are stated as: "The failure of the Irish government to apply their process fairly to all citizens who pay PRSI and Taxes within the Irish State."
The 28-year-old man involved was temporarily laid off due to the Covid-19 emergency on March 17, and to date has not received any Covid-19 payment through the scheme via his employer.
At least one fellow employee who is ordinarily resident in the State has received the payment.
Phoenix Law argues in the letter that the "difference in treatment" has "no legitimate aim or purpose. It is unjust, unreasonable, arbitrary and/or disproportionate. It is unjustifiable."
Gavin Booth, representing the man involved says he hopes the issue can be resolved before taking further legal action.
"We believe that all those who work, pay tax and PRSI should be entitled to payments by the government regardless of what part of the island they live on," he said.
"We do hope that the Irish government resolves the issue without the need for court action but we will move to issue this case on an emergency basis should it not be resolved."