Mary Lou McDonald joins chorus of calls to restore €350 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Mary Lou McDonald joins chorus of calls to restore €350 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald leaves the RTÉ broadcasting studios in Dublin.

Mary Lou McDonald has joined growing calls for the government to restore the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Speaking on The Week In Politics, the Sinn Féin president says the cutting of the €350 payment is unwise and will lead to increased debt among the public.

The government has come under pressure from it's own TDs — Fianna Fáil's Willie O'Dea, Barry Cowen and Green TD Neasa Hourigan — who have all called for the restoration of the payment introduced in March.

The payment was reduced this month from €350 a week to between €200 and €300, and further decreases depending on a person's income before the pandemic. 

More than 150,000 people are currently in receipt of the payment.

"I think the very reason to extend and to maintain the payment is the fact that we are still in the grips of a crisis," Mary Lou McDonald said. 

"I mean, there's whole section of society, when hospitality and tourism in particular but also taxi drivers, the entertainment industry, that are paid to put on gigs and conferences and so on, they haven't been back to work, they don't know when they will be back to work, to what extent they will be back to work. 

"So, the smart thing to do, socially and economically is to support those workers and their families. 

"€350 is not a fortune. All of that money that goes into the pockets of those families, go straight back into the economy because it is literally paying bills and putting bread on the table.

"They've made a mistake, because what they're doing is unfair because what they're doing would undoubtedly cause not just hardship, but what MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) has described as a forthcoming tsunami of domestic debt. 

"That's not a smart thing to do socially or economically so Paschal (Donohoe) would have to change his position because it's the wrong position."

Ms McDonald also said that she felt the payment should be available for students who cannot work due to the pandemic.

She says that the government will already be operating in a deficit due to the required borrowing to sustain the country in the recession, but her party would have different priorities, which will be presented in their alternative budget.

"The things that we would prioritise and our approach is different," she said.

Labour has also called for the restoration of the payment.

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