The Social Democrats have tabled a number of amendments to the emergency Covid-19 legislation going through the Dáil today. In addition to formal amendments, the party has also submitted a number of proposals on issues which need to be considered in the context of this Bill and other future measures to address the evolving crisis.

The party has highlighted issues including the need to bring parity across the social protection payment system to ensure that all those in receipt of Jobseekers or Illness Benefit are on an equal rate.  Party spokesperson on social protection, Gary Gannon TD, has also raised a concern regarding the operation of the Back to Education Allowance and confusion over whether those who engage in volunteer efforts throughout the crisis will have their payment negatively impacted.  Mr Gannon also highlighted the need to consider measures for one parent families who rely on maintenance payments from a spouse who may now be without an income. The party has also raised some concerns over the operation and potential restrictions on the wage subsidy scheme for employers and higher-paid employees.

 Housing spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan TD has tabled amendments seeking to further protect any tenant who was served with a termination notice prior to the emergency, by further extending the time provided to a tenant to source alternative accommodation following the end of the emergency period.  

 In addition, the party has sought a number of measures to try address the issues arising for people and businesses as the emergency develops including:

  • Changes to the current planning arrangements to allow for enhanced local decision making and an extension of the consultation process
  • Consideration to be given to the pay discrepancies between healthcare staff transitioning from private to public and ensuring pay parity
  • Inclusion of a wage subsidy equal for student nurses now working in healthcare settings to help deal with the Covid-19 crisis
  • The establishment of a Fisheries Task Force to support the industry and fishing communities who are struggling as a result of the closure of restaurants and may retail food outlets across the country.
  • Emergency powers to be granted to An Garda Siochana to make interim barring orders in cases of domestic abuse.       
  • In cases of pregnancy termination, to dispense with the current requirement of a 3-day waiting period. This is unworkable in an emergency where the GP service is overwhelmed, making the current abortion regulations unworkable.

26th March 2020

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