Wednesday, 3 February 2021
Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020: Motion
We have two speakers.
I raise the issue of caravan and camping parks, which have been unfairly excluded by the Revenue Commissioners from the Covid restrictions support scheme, CRSS. As providers of seasonal accommodation, camping and caravan parks should be eligible for the scheme under the heading which covers hotels, bed and breakfasts, guesthouses and similar accommodation providers. In early December, the Revenue Commissioners updated the CRSS guidelines to exclude camping and caravan sites on the basis that they were operating outdoor activities and such outdoor activities are not ordinarily carried out from a business premises, as defined for the purposes of eligibility for the CRSS. This is incorrect because the situation is contrary to the understanding of the Revenue Commissioners and the operators believe that they should have been included within the remit of the scheme.
The Irish wedding industry is also in crisis. Its contribution to the economy is estimated to be a minimum of €2.3 billion per annum. Some 60% of those responding to a query in this regard estimated that they had lost more than 75% of their wedding business in 2020.
Two thirds of the respondents had to lay off staff because of a loss of business. They need financial support for the industry for this year, and realistically for the first six months of 2022. Wedding services are not recognised as an industry and, as such, have been left off access to supports or industry forums, including the most recently announced Fáilte Ireland supports. Wedding services need to be recognised as a valuable industry. The Government needs to engage with them. These businesses make their living providing goods and services, venues and accommodation, food and beverages to the 21,000 weddings in Ireland each year, not to mention the 21,000 couples and their families who are now in limbo. These are couples and families who do not know when they can have the day they have spent so much time looking forward to and on which they are willing to spend so much money.
As I said in the House this morning on the issue of fuel poverty, the people who are in receipt of a pandemic unemployment payment should be included in the fuel allowance and not have to wait 15 months before they can apply.
People over the age of 66, the people who built Ireland and who continue to work, have been left with nothing, not one single brown cent. Nothing has been given to them aside from being told that they have to isolate. Nothing was given to this cohort of people, which is scandalous. These people worked hard. They are the people who got up early in the morning and who worked to put the country the way it is and who, unfortunately, have been left behind.