Thursday, May 28, 2020

By Paul Hosford

Outgoing Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty denied that people are “gaming the system”.

There will be no clawback of payments made to those on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment who are also in receipt of other state supports.

The outgoing Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty told the Dáil the idea that money would be taken back as had been suggested by some commentators last week was “shameful”.

Ms Doherty also denied that people are “gaming the system”.

“Can I just disassociate myself and anybody else who has wrongly intimated that people are gaming the system.

“Yes, there is fraud, and there is fraud in every system and every other country. We are catching those people but they are in very small numbers. There is nobody gaming the system.

“There are some people getting more from it than they would have been earning in income and there are anomalies with part-time workers.”

Ms Doherty was asking the Dáil to approve new spending limits for her department, saying that “money will run out next week” if not approved.

Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea, however, said that certainty was needed on the length of time pandemic-related payments would continue.

Mr O’Dea said he was happy that families would not face a “cliff edge” drop from €350 a week to €204, but that certainty on how long they would have that comfort was needed.

“I can’t believe what I’m not hearing.

“We’re being asked today to vote in the house on a sum of €6.840 billion in increased money for social welfare payments, which I welcome, of course, but without any information as to the future of this particular payment.”

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said that the government had sent “mixed messages” on the payment.

“The Taoiseach has said on the one hand there is no reason for people to fear, that the current emergency payments will continue as they are.

“Then he went on to say that no decision has been made yet, the Cabinet hasn’t made a decision and indeed it might be a decision for a future government or a new government. It can’t be both.”

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