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Paschal Donohoe calls on Sinn Féin to clarify position on all social welfare payments after calling for €50 dole hike

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has called on Sinn Féin to clarify its position on social welfare payments, after the main opposition party proposed a €50 weekly increase in Jobseeker’s Allowance.

In its submission to the Commission on Taxation and Welfare, Sinn Féin made a case for the hefty increase, saying people searching for work should be entitled to a payment which meets the Minimum Essential Standard of Living.

Mr Donohoe said the party should explain if it wants to see a €50 increase for all other social welfare payments, and asked how it plans to pay for such hikes.

“I want Sinn Féin to explain why, at a time where employers all over our country are crying out for workers, they believe there is the case to increase Jobseeker’s Payments by €50,” he said.

“I’d also ask them to clarify what that means for the other social welfare payments that we pay to others in society.

"It’s been a standard practice for social welfare policy now for many years, that if you move one working age payment up, you do the same to the others.

“Is Sinn Féin calling for an increase of €50 for all of the working age payments in our social welfare system? If they are, they should clarify how much that would cost – and how they plan to pay for it.”

Sinn Féin recently said it will abolish special tax breaks for highly paid executives if it is elected to government. 

In a bid to attract highly skilled workers, the Special Assignee Relief Programme put in place tax breaks on high incomes for up to five years.

They should clarify how much it would cost – and how they plan to pay for it

Mr Donohoe said the programme keeps “certain kinds of jobs” in Ireland, and getting rid of it would be an economic “gamble”.

“If Sinn Féin is willing to change something like this, it points to me that they are willing to gamble with our economic security – at a time when we already have plenty of risks,” he said.

“What we really have to be concerned about is what does this mean for our economy? What does it mean for jobs in our economy?

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"And what does that mean for jobs in Ireland, at a time that which we are seeing real economic risks develop elsewhere in the world?”

The Fine Gael minister also said while he currently does not have concerns about a recession in Ireland, the State may be affected by recessions in other countries.

“The employment figures and the Exchequer figures point to an economy that is still growing – and growing in line with the revised expectations,” he said.

“The world is facing the risk of a significant reduction in growth. Some parts of the world could face the risk of recession.

“I do not at the moment see any change in our performance that is a cause for concern. But it could happen, in particular in 2023, things could happen elsewhere in the world that impact on our economy.”

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Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly

In response, Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly defended her party’s proposal to increase Jobseeker's Allowance by almost €50, saying it would be done over time.

“Sinn Féin wants to reform our social protection system to ensure sure that welfare rates are fair, and protect people relying on them from poverty,” she said.

“Currently, payment rates are set below the poverty line. We have repeatedly proposed establishing a social welfare commission to make recommendations on rates and ensure that they meet a minimum standard of living. Any measures would be implemented over time to ensure fiscal sustainability.”

Ms O’Reilly said the cost-of-living crisis is putting “huge pressure” on people, including on those depending on welfare benefits.

“Sinn Féin will publish its Budget proposals next month, which will outline how we would introduce a suite of measures to help people hit by the cost-of-living crisis and ensure they get a break from sky-high costs,” she said.


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