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Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, has said that the €5 billion stimulus package announced this afternoon by the Government must be about putting money into cash registers and into the pockets of those who need it most and will spend it in the short-term.

Deputy Murphy said:

“While there are positive measures contained in today’s announcement, it is vital that those who suffered disproportionately as a result of Covid-19 are the ones who benefit most. The success of this plan will ultimately be judged on the numbers of people who retain their jobs, businesses and homes as Ireland navigates its way out of this crisis.

“This seems to be more of a September stimulus plan than a July one, as so many of the 50 measures announced today appear to be at least two or three months away.

“The urgency of now is what is crucial – for example, there is no mention of funding that must be made available to schools to reopen safely. Without those resources, schools won’t reopen with huge knock on effects on the economy.

“The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) has been a vital lifeline for many people and we are seriously concerned that the proposed decreases will have a devastating impact on those who cannot restart work until a vaccine is found.

“We are broadly supportive of the measures that help Ireland’s tourism and hospitality sector, where many of those employed are on lower wages and which has been decimated by the pandemic. But rather than frame the main holiday at home initiative around a tax rebate, we would favour a straight voucher system tied to PPS numbers as it could then apply to those who don’t earn enough to pay tax. As it is proposed now, it is deeply unfair that it will not be available to over one third of the Irish workforce.

“Many of the measures designed to support businesses will need to be examined in more detail to make sure the eligibility criteria for small firms is not too onerous and, equally, that profitable companies are not benefitting from it. This applies to all measures included in today’s announcement – they must be directly targeted where they will support immediate spending in the economy, not contribute to the profits or savings of the wealthy.”

July 23, 2020

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