Gardaí are among the frontline workers asking to be included in the pandemic bonus scheme.
The Government has confirmed the tax-free €1,000 payment will be made to front-line healthcare workers in February or March.
It will be available to frontline HSE staff and agency recruits who worked alongside them, as well as staff at private nursing homes and hospices affected by COVID.
Since the announcement, the Government has been facing calls to expand the scheme to cover all essential workers – including retail staff, gardaí, pharmacy workers and home carers.
Speaking in the Dáil today, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it is “very hard to know” where to draw the line and defended the decision focus on the people who “wore masks and gowns” and were exposed to COVID patients.
Brendan O’Connor from the Garda Representative Association told Newstalk the scheme needs to be expanded.
“We were dealing with the public day in, day out, on checkpoints, meeting thousands of people,” he said.
“We also had that footage of Grafton Street during the protests against the lockdown – our members being spat at, they had bottles of urine thrown at them, that type of thing. It really was a difficult time on the front line for Guards.”
He said Gardaí should not be left out.
“Our members are frontline workers; we were an essential part of the State’s response” he said.
“We were there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, changing our work practices, being productive, being flexible, putting ourselves in harm’s way and taking this virus home to members’ families.
Meanwhile, Tracy Carroll whose five-year-old daughter Willow is non-verbal and has cerebral palsy said home carers deserve to be recognised.
“There were so many families just left on their knees through the pandemic and I mean, you have no idea the level of care that goes into looking after someone with complex needs or an old person with dementia, those little resources you would have on a daily basis are your saving grace.
“When you are left with nothing, absolutely nothing, and you have nothing left to give yourself, where do you go from there?”
Minister Varadkar said the Government decision was that the bonus would only apply to State employees and agency workers – but admitted family carers do deserve recognition.
He said Government is currently considering giving carers access to the State contributory pension, which he suggested would be “much more valuable” than the €1,000 payment.
Earlier, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said expanding the payment beyond core healthcare workers would be "incredibly difficult".
With reporting from Andrew Lowth.