‘Entirely wrong’ to remove pandemic payment from students, says Sinn Féin leader

McDonald also calls on Minister for Finance to reverse cut to payment

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has also called for a reversal of a decision to cut the PUP payment to € 300 for those previously eligible for up to € 350. File photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has also called for a reversal of a decision to cut the PUP payment to € 300 for those previously eligible for up to € 350. File photograph: Crispin Rodwell

 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said it would be “entirely wrong” to remove the pandemic employment payment from third-level students.

Ms McDonald has also called on the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to reverse a decision to cut the PUP payment to €300 for those previously eligible for up to €350.

The Sunday Times has reported that senior ministers are to review whether third-level students can continue to claim the payment which amounts to more than €24m a month in total.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Ms McDonald said that this would be “entirely wrong”.

“Bear in mind these are students that have part time work, they’re being denied access to that work because of the pandemic,” she said.

“These are students who in many, many cases have to pay their way through college.”

Amid reports of internal pressure within both Fianna Fáil and the Green Party to restore the PUP payment to previous levels, Ms McDonald said it was “unfair” to cut it “at a time when substantial parts of the economy are still in full lockdown and other parts of the economy are struggling on limited capacity”.

“I think the very reason to extend and to maintain the payments is the fact that we are still in the grips of a crisis.

“The smart thing to do socially and economically is to support those workers and their families. And €350 is not a fortune, all of that money that goes into the pockets of those families goes straight back into the economy because it is literally paying bills and putting bread on the table,” Ms McDonald said.

“What they’re doing will undoubtedly cause not just hardship but what MABS has described as a forthcoming tsunami of domestic debt. That’s not a smart thing to do socially or economically. Paschal (Donohoe) will have to change his position because it’s the wrong position,” Ms McDonald added.