Michael Noonan’s ‘allergic to work’ comment criticised

Fianna Fáil says people seeking to re-enter workforce may feel stigmatised by Minister’s claim

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he believed there were some people in Ireland who were allergic to work. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he believed there were some people in Ireland who were allergic to work. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

 

Fianna Fáil has said a suggestion by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan that some people are “allergic to work” is insulting and offensive to those seeking jobs.

The party’s spokesman on jobs Dara Calleary said Mr Noonan’s comments were “not only arrogant and rude, they were ironic”.

“People who are genuinely trying to get back into the workplace will feel stigmatised by these dreadful comments,” he said.

“Instead of hitting out at unemployed people, Minister Noonan should be working with Jobs Minister Richard Bruton to broaden the Government’s horizons beyond the highly skilled multinational market and open up other job opportunities in local communities across the country.”

Speaking at a Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce lunch on Wednesday, Mr Noonan said that “we all know there will be people who will never work. They’re allergic to work.”

He said the Government’s “objective is that before very long, everybody in this country who wants to work, or the kids who are emigrating now, if they want to stay home and work, there will be a job for them.”

Asked about the comments on Thursday, Minister for Education Jan O’ Sullivan said “I’m sure there are some people who don’t want to work but I think we should encourage them in every way to work”.

“While we’re offering various ways which people can up skill and can prepare themselves for the workplace, there are obviously people who are between jobs or people who because of disability etcetera are unable to work and that’s perfectly recognisable.”

Ms O’Sullivan any person who has the capacity to work should be given the opportunity to do so.

Mr Noonan’s remarks which also criticised by Sinn Féin, with Cllr Kathleen Funchion, who is contesting the Carlow-Kilkenny byelection, describing them as a “disgraceful slur”on the unemployed. She called for a retraction.

“The vast majority of those out of work want to work but have been either forced to leave the country, take up low paid work or go on an activation scheme solely aimed at massaging the jobs figures,” she said.

“It infuriating that these comments are coming from a career-politician who lives on a exorbitant salary at the expense of the Irish people.”

Cllr Malcolm Noonan, a Green Party candidate in the Carlow-Kilkenny byelection, said the comments were “deeply offensive” for people struggling financially.

“It is shocking that the Minister would accuse people of being work-shy when he has actually cut the top rate of tax for Ireland’s highest earners,” he said.