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14.01 2 Aug 2020


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The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is "discriminatory", according to Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea.

The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys made a change to the social welfare payment for people who lost their job due to COVID-19 so it won't affect people who travel to 'green-list' countries.

It came after thousands of people had their payments cut-off after they were stopped and checked leaving Dublin Airport.

The Department of Social Protection has rejected claims by the Data Protection Commission that the checks may not be lawful.

This week, changes were also made requiring PUP claimants to be “genuinely seeking” work.

Deputy O'Dea, a former Minister for Defence, said he does not agree with the changes to the payment.

Speaking on Newstalk's On The Record with Gavan Reilly programme, he said: "If I was Heather Humphreys I wouldn't have signed off on that PUP change because it's clearly discriminatory.

"Even aside from the fact as to whether there's any proper legal basis for this...it is discriminatory.

"It's slightly less discriminatory now in relation to people on social welfare than it was before as a result of the minister changing her mind after we've already voted a very discriminatory policy through.

"So I think it's still discriminatory and I wouldn't agree with it.

Reflecting on the new government's rocky start, Deputy O'Dea said "much good work has been done" in the past month, including the July Stimulus Package and the plan to reopen schools.

However, he said: "I'm very angry that those things have been overshadowed by a number of rather silly errors and underpinned by pretty poor communication.

"What has gone out in the last month does not truly reflect much of the good that the government has done.

PUP 'clearly discriminatory', says Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Regarding the controversy over a pay rise for super junior ministers, Deputy O'Dea said "it was bound to generate a lot of adverse publicity".

If their pay had not been increased, he said: "The government would have saved itself an enormous amount of grief and the government would have been sure more public attention would have been directed to the good things it was doing."

He was he was "bound by the party whip" to vote for the pay rise along with the government.

On two Green Party TDs who did not vote with the government on housing legislation last week, he said it is "unsustainable and unfair" that certain parties would get lighter punishment than others.

Neasa Hourigan resigned as Chief Whip for voting against the Residential Tenancies Bill this week.

She has also had her Dáil speaking rights suspended for two months, a sanction also imposed on Junior Minister Joe O'Brien who abstained on the vote.

The Dáil will not actually sit for six of the eight weeks the punishment lasts for.

Deputy O'Dea said: "The punishment for breaching the whip should apply to all 84 [government] TDs...should be equal across the board."

Also speaking on On The Record with Gavan Reilly today, Minister for Children and Green Party TD Roderic O'Gorman said their actions will not be repeated and he was taking these assurances on face value.

However, Deputy O'Dea said he would not do the same.

Listen and subscribe to On The Record with Gavan Reilly on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.

    

Main image: File photo of  Willie O’Dea TD outside Leinster House. Credit: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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