Sinn Féin MP Órfhaith Begley has called on the Irish government to immediately make the emergency Pandemic Unemployment Payment available to workers who work in the south but live in the north.
The West Tyrone MP said:
“While many people are now starting to return to work following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions there are still workers who live in the north but work in the south who have been unable to return to work. Yet they are still not able to access the Pandemic Unemployment Payment put in place by the Irish government.
“I and my colleagues had raised this issue with the Irish government, highlighting the dichotomy that these workers pay tax in the south but were denied from accessing this emergency benefit.
“At the time the Irish government claimed it could not make the payment available to workers who live in the north. However, my party colleague Chris MacManus MEP has received confirmation from the European Commission that there is no barrier to the Irish government making the payment available to these workers.
“Affected workers were left to claim Universal Credit payments in the north which were significantly lower than the amount of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
“I am now calling on the Irish government to immediately make this payment available to cross-border workers who have lost out as a result of this decision. They should reimburse the difference between the Universal Credit Payment and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment in line with the commitment that citizens in the north would never again be left behind by an Irish government.”