Irish Examiner View: Airport checks on PUP recipients a step too far

Irish Examiner View: Airport checks on PUP recipients a step too far
A near-empty Dublin Airport today, as it was confirmed over the weekend that the Department of Social Protection have stopped Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment and other social welfare payments for recipients who have travelled abroad for non-essential purposes. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Over the last five exceptional months, the Irish public has been willing to accept a degree of State control unprecedented in modern times. In the interests of public health, we accepted when offices closed. 

Then schools. Then shops and restaurants, café and bars, and hairdressers.

We went into lockdown. We stayed away from our elderly parents and waved to them through windows and watched helplessly when many of them died in nursing homes. We stayed at home, and many of us survived on €350 a week. 

When we were told it was safer to go out, many of us bought masks, maintained social distancing and downloaded the HSE contract tracing app, despite privacy concerns.

Now comes news that a quiet change in the law has deprived 104 people of their pandemic unemployment payment because they went abroad against travel advice.

The Government has said controversial airport checks on passengers leaving the country are anti-fraud measures, although you have to ask if those resources might not be better spent vetting the passengers coming into the country instead?

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