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85 cases may be entitled Pandemic Unemployment Pay during a holiday

People travelling to ‘green list’ countries will not have PUP cut.

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Heather Humphreys made the announcement in the Dail (Julien Behal/PA)

Heather Humphreys made the announcement in the Dail (Julien Behal/PA)

Heather Humphreys made the announcement in the Dail (Julien Behal/PA)

Eighty five people whose Pandemic Unemployment Payments (PUP) were stopped during a holiday may have been entitled to them, the Irish Government said.

The Department of Social Protection has completed the review of the 2,500 PUP cases where the payment was stopped for travelling abroad.

The Government will no longer cut people’s PUP if they travel to countries on the “green list”.

The Department said: “This review has identified some 85 cases that have the potential to be entitled to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for a holiday period.

“The Department will be contacting the 85 individuals directly in the coming days to verify these cases.”

It emerged that hundreds of people have had their PUP halted after they were checked while travelling out of Dublin Airport.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said the policy would be changed so that people who travel to the green list countries will not be affected.

The list excludes mainland UK, the US, and popular holiday destinations for Irish holidaymakers such as Spain.

The 15 approved areas are Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Greece, Greenland, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marino.

Ms Humphreys told the Dail: “I have now asked my officials to amend the regulations so that people on jobseekers who wish to travel to any of the countries on the green list can do so and continue to receive their payment.

“For countries not on the green list, persons can travel for essential reasons only.”

Earlier, Labour leader Alan Kelly said that people receiving the PUP are being “discriminated” against under new legislation passed by the Dail on Tuesday.

Mr Kelly also said that the decision to withhold the payment from people travelling abroad has no basis in law.

Despite widespread opposition from TDs, new legislation was passed that requires people in receipt of the PUP to be actively seeking work. It will now be sent to the Seanad for consideration.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said people on the payment should be seeking work and Government advice states people should avoid non-essential travel abroad.

However, according to the Department of Social Protection, more than 90% of those individuals were leaving the country permanently.

Mr Kelly called for a breakdown of those figures.

“There is an issue about reasonable grounds for actually casting the net across ports and airports and effectively interrogating people as regards their social welfare status, given the changes that have been mishandled by the minister (Ms Humphreys),” Mr Kelly added.

“We’ve come through a pandemic, we’ve done our best, there’s been a huge amount of solidarity, but that solidarity went out the window last night because of the discriminatory changes effectively brought in by this Government.

“I believe that the actions that have been taken against a certain cohort of people to date have no basis in law until the Bill that was brought forward in the Dail is actually signed by the President in the coming days, or weeks.”

Mr Kelly described the handling of the changes as “a mess”.

“This is about the changes that have been brought about by the current minister to discriminate against people who are on PUP payments, who were working, and lost their jobs,” he added.

“Many of these people are waiting. Take bar workers, take people working in some of the hospitality industry, take people who are working in some areas around the leisure industry.

“They are waiting to come back to work based on the next phase of the implementation of our reopening time.

“They have a legitimate expectation not to be treated like this, so this is discrimination and it is a real absolute change by this Government as regards the basis upon which bringing people together in solidarity.”

PA