Mary Lou McDonald: Covid supports must be retained until at least autumn

'Cloud of uncertainty hanging over' workers reliant on pandemic unemployment payment
Mary Lou McDonald: Covid supports must be retained until at least autumn

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said many people on financial supports are living under a cloud of uncertainty.

The current level of Covid supports must be retained until at least the autumn to protect hundreds of thousands of families, the Dáil has heard.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said workers who are currently reliant on the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) and other Covid-related supports have a "cloud of uncertainly hanging over them".

She pushed Taoiseach Micheál Martin to provide assurances that there will be no cut in payments, and supports will be extended to the autumn at least. She asked him to clarify this as part of an announcement on an easing of restrictions due on Friday.

Pointing to 300,000 people still on the PUP and another 300,000 on the wage subsidy scheme, Ms McDonald said "many of these people haven't seen a day's work in more than a year, and despite the reopening, they are not sure when they will get back to work again".

Financial pressure

She said if the Government reduces these payments from the end of June, many families, who are reliant on the supports, will be put under massive pressure to pay bills and mortgages.

"These workers aren't looking for big bonuses or massive pay hikes that others have seen during the crisis, they simply want fairness and assurances from their Government that the rug will not be pulled from under them when they're still going through a very difficult time," Ms McDonald told the Dáil.

Mr Martin said he is "very conscious" of the significant difficulties in aviation as well as hospitality and tourism.

He said there is "good news" for the hospitality sector as businesses prepare to reopen from June and into July with further details on this coming at the end of the week.

Mr Martin said: "The Government intervention has been unprecedented both in supporting incomes and in supporting businesses and enterprises. The entire rationale for that has been to protect as many jobs as we possibly can.

"The next phase will be how do we re-engineer, reboot, and facilitate the rebuilding of those sectors of the economy over the next six months. The national economic recovery plan will be the framework within which we identify the growth areas for the future, how we assist economic recovery as we reopen society in an effective way."

Mr Martin added: "We have said there will be no cliff-edge in terms of the reduction of supports."

Ms McDonald said the promise of no cliff-edge is not good enough and the current level of support needs to be maintained throughout the summer.

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