Paschal Donohoe is calling on Sinn Féin to clarify its position on all welfare payments after calling for a €50 increase in unemployment benefits

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has urged Sinn Féin to clarify its position on welfare payments after the main opposition party proposed a €50 weekly hike in unemployment benefits.

In its submission to the Taxation and Welfare Commission, Sinn Féin advocated the hefty increase, saying people looking for work should be entitled to a payment equivalent to basic living standards.

Mr Donohoe said the party should explain whether they wanted to see a €50 increase for all other social benefits and asked how they intended to pay for such increases.

“I want Sinn Féin to explain why, at a time when employers across the country are screaming for workers, they believe it’s appropriate to increase payments to jobseekers by €50,” he said.

“I would also ask them to clarify what that means for the other benefits we pay to others in society.

“It has been common practice in social policy for many years that if you increase one working-age payment, so do the others.

“Is Sinn Féin asking for a €50 increase in all working-age benefits in our welfare system? If so, they should clarify how much that would cost – and how they plan to pay for it.”

Sinn Féin recently said it would scrap special tax breaks for high-paid executives if elected to government.

To attract a highly skilled workforce, the Special Assignee Relief Program introduced high-income tax breaks for up to five years.

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

Mr Donohoe said the scheme keeps “certain types of jobs” in Ireland and it would be an economic “gamble” to get rid of it.

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

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

“And what does that mean for jobs in Ireland at a time when real economic risks are developing elsewhere in the world?”

The Fine Gael minister also said while he was not currently concerned about a recession in Ireland, the state could be hit by recessions elsewhere.

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

“The world faces the risk of a significant slowdown in growth. Some parts of the world are at risk of recession.

“I don’t see any worrying change in our performance at the moment. But it could happen, especially in 2023, things could happen elsewhere in the world that affect our economy.”


Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly

In response, Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly defended her party’s proposal to increase unemployment benefits by nearly €50, saying it would happen over time.

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

“Currently, payment rates are set below the poverty line. We have repeatedly proposed creating a Social Welfare Commission to make tariff recommendations and ensure they meet a minimum standard of living. All measures would be implemented over time to ensure the sustainability of public finances.”

Ms O’Reilly said the cost of living crisis was putting “tremendous pressure” on people, including those on welfare.

“Sinn Féin will release their budget proposals next month, outlining how we would introduce a range of measures to help people impacted by the cost of living crisis and ensure they get a break from sky-high costs,” she said . Paschal Donohoe is calling on Sinn Féin to clarify its position on all welfare payments after calling for a €50 increase in unemployment benefits

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