Coronavirus: 5,000 return to Ireland and 1,000 want to come home

Wage subsidies increased, farmer payments brought forward as State warns of bogus emails

Some 5,000 Irish citizens have returned to Ireland over the last month as the global coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Over the Easter weekend alone, citizens were repatriated from Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and South Africa.

A further 1,000 citizens have conveyed an interest in returning home, the Government has revealed.

Meanwhile, more than 45,000 employers are now registered with the temporary wage subsidy scheme set up to keep workers in employment during the pandemic and associated restrictions on movement and commerce.


To date €267 million has been drawn down from the scheme. Further refunds generated by the Revenue Commissioners will be in people's bank accounts next week, the assistant general secretary at the Department of the Taoiseach Liz Canavan has told a daily briefing on Friday.

The Government is increasing the amount it will pay under the coronavirus wage subsidy scheme in a bid to keep more part-time workers on the payroll.

The subsidy, introduced as an emergency measure last month, will be increased from 70 per cent to 85 per cent for employees who earn less than €24,400 per year.

Under the changes, the scheme will also be extended to higher-paid workers – those earning over €76,000 – in a bid to reduce the number of people being laid off.

The move comes after employers said that some of their part-time and low-paid staff were not working because they could earn more from the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Bogus emails

The public has been advised of a bogus email in circulation at present purporting to be from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection seeking a refund in unemployment payments made to customers from a nominated bank account.

The department said the emails usually come from gmail or hotmail accounts, neither of which the department uses.

Drivers’ licence and learner permits due to expire by June 30th have been extended for a further four months.

The same extensions will apply to certificates of competency received on passing a driving test, driver theory test certificates, motorcycle and basic training certificates. It will also apply to national car tests (NCTs) due to expire by June 30th and the commercial vehicle roadworthiness tests.

Ms Cavanan said this will ensure that people will not lose out as a result of the temporary closure of the Road Safety Authority facilities and "will, in particular, help to keep vital supply chain workers on our roads".

The Department of Transport is monitoring a dispute between P&O Ferries and Liverpool and Peel ports over the non-payment of fees by the company.

As a result the Norbay, one of three P&O vessels on the Dublin-Liverpool route, was impounded at Liverpool Port as it was due to sail to Dublin.

Ms Canavan said that though it was fundamentally a contractual dispute, it did have implications for the supply chain in Ireland.

She said P&O ferries accounts for less than 20 per cent of the freight between Britain and Ireland. She said the other ferry operators will be able to take up the slack and the supply chain is unlikely to be affected.

Farmer payments

Glas payments, the green low-carbon scheme for farmers, will be brought forward by a month and €26 million will start issuing to 42,300 farmers early next week.

She said the payment should “significantly increase the cash flow on Irish farms during these challenging times”.

A subsidy of €4 million has been announced to support audiovisual production companies and creative talent indeveloping a strong slate of projects.

The money will be assigned to production companies, screenwriters and others in TV and animation.

Ms Canavan conc luded by stating that the Irish public must “keep it up” when it comes to retaining social distancing.

“We need to keep going to protect ourselves, our families and our community,” she said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times