Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Social Welfare (Covid-19) (Amendment) Bill 2020: Second Stage
-----speaks in here but does not want to be in government. It prefers to give out on social media and throughout the country. That is its modus operandi. This Government is working to protect people in social solidarity with employers and employees. That is what this Bill is about.
I welcome the measure regarding the cycle to work scheme. We in Government must reimagine how people travel to work. I refer in particular to the e-bike scheme. As a tax incentive, it is about encouraging people.
I have written to the Minister with regard to community employment schemes. I ask her to allow people up to the age of 60 to continue on CLÁR programmes in areas where there are no jobs available and in which it can be difficult to fill vacancies on community employment schemes. I ask her to maintain an open policy with regard to supporting these people and local communities.
As Senator Burke said, the previous Government, in conjunction with other parties, reacted very positively by developing a co-ordinated response to the pandemic to offer people work and security. I welcome the Minister's clarification with regard to travelling abroad and the fact that there is now certainty. I have a question for people. Is it okay to keep paying money to people who are leaving the country without intending to return? I am only posing the question.
I stand in solidarity with the Debenhams workers, as other Members have. They have been treated appallingly by the company. These workers have been sacrificed at the altar of Covid-19. It is wrong, unfair and unjust. The workers in Debenhams deserve to be treated fairly and to have their status recognised by Government. Senator Ruane referred to the arts sector. I will not dwell on that other than to say I support her comments.
I am the Seanad spokesperson on aviation. I have met a number of travel agents, who are asking that Government consider giving assistance to people who in good faith have paid for holidays. Due to Covid-19, there was rightly a restriction on travel to certain areas. If a flight departs, however, the people booked on it will not gain compensation. Flights are departing but airlines are filling the planes with cargo so they can make their money either way. We have created a green list but I ask that Government take a clear stance to give a sense of security to people who have paid for their holidays in good faith and who want to abide by the green list. It is important we encourage people not to travel but that we ensure they receive compensation and that the airlines and the hotels in other countries do not benefit from this misfortune.
I commend the Minister on her work and thank her for what she is doing. I look forward to the remainder of the debate.