Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Enterprise, Trade and Employment): Statements
I appreciate the Tánaiste and the Minister of State's presence and their opening addresses. I was glad to hear the references, particularly from the Minister of State, to the businesses which, through this pandemic, have felt left behind compared to other businesses. That is dominating the representations to my office from the sectors which have not been able to access the restart grant because it was for rate payers. They have not been able to access Covid restrictions support scheme, CRSS, and now the Covid-19 business aid scheme, CBAS, which is welcome and worthwhile, is perhaps out of reach for them. We are talking about people in the events industry, the travel industry and also, as was referred to by a colleague in another meeting, the traditional man or woman in the van, who does not have a solid business placing or anything comparable. While the current schemes are a hugely important support for businesses that qualify, for those who miss out, the loss is absolutely crushing. Many of these are small and family businesses. There is huge concern and I know there is huge societal concern. The costs are still coming in and many of the costs Deputy Flaherty referred to in relation to Brexit are devastating.
The last sector I wish to refer to and remind people of is the aviation industry. We get regular communications from pilots, the pilots' association and cabin crew. Supports are being provided at the moment. There is a pandemic unemployment payment for the individuals and airlines and airports are receiving support. However, it will most likely be one of the last sectors to open up, along with the entertainment industry. Will there be a sector to return to? As an isolated island nation, it is important we have a thriving aviation sector. I want to reaffirm its importance so those businesses, if they are able to tread water for now, will be able to reopen in due course.