Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has criticised what he described as the double standards of the present Government who are penalising welfare recipients while at the same time rewarding multi-millionaires who over stay in Ireland and would normally become liable for tax in this jurisdiction.

Many recipients were employed prior to COVID and may have booked holidays prior to the outbreak

Teachta Crowe said:

“I am deeply concerned at the double standards being applied by this Government.

“The new government policy of performing airport checks to stop pandemic unemployment payments to people travelling abroad emerged this week and has rightly been criticised as unduly harsh

“The Department of Social Protection is now performing checks on people at airports in order to identify people on pandemic unemployment income supports and stop their payments if they holiday abroad.

“There are also questions about the legality of such questioning in the airports, but we have seen the cavalier attitude of the Department of Social Protection to data protection law before.

“These recipients were all working pre-COVID and many of them booked flights and hotel accommodation prior to the epidemic. The current government has made no effort to support them getting a cash refund from airlines and actually supported a watering down of rights prior to the European ruling on the issue.

“This is the same government policy who rush to aid multi-millionaires who overstayed in Ireland during the pandemic and would have been liable for tax on their assets and generous earnings.

“It says a lot about this Government that they should focus on penalising those who are the worst off financially, while rewarding the rich and powerful

“It continues with the last government’s unfair and inaccurate obsession they clearly have with ‘punishing’ those on social welfare while those on obscene incomes do not face any threat to their status quo.

“This latest policy adds to the ongoing confusion and chaos which have characterised the travel ‘green list’ from the start. People are being told not to go abroad, then told they can do so. They are told they will be punished financially for going, but only if they are in receipt of income support.

“People are understandably confused by the chaotic messages coming from the Government about international travel. The Government needs to ensure its international travel policy is clear, evidence-based and fair for all. That is not the case at the moment.

“I personally don’t believe people should be travelling abroad unless their journey is essential. If possible, people should stay at home instead of going overseas so that we can all minimise the risk of COVID-19 resurging, but I realise that is asking a lot from individuals and families.

“Families may have paid thousands for holidays and, faced with a government that is indifferent towards supporting them getting refunds, it is either go abroad or have no holiday because the money has been sank into foreign travel.

“I do however believe that multi-millionaire who deliberately use and abuse our tax loopholes to avoid paying tax by travelling abroad should not be given any tax amnesty or leeway, but my priorities lie with the ordinary, not the elites.

“This latest government decision on travel highlights their priorities and double standards when it comes to the wealthy.

“They penalise welfare recipients while at the same time reward multi-millionaires who overstay in Ireland and become liable for tax in this jurisdiction.”