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anecdotal evidence Restaurants’ Association of Ireland boss says PUP recipients ‘should prove they are living in the country’

Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly said Mr Cummins' remarks were part of an 'insidious campaign'

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Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland

Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland

Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland

Pandemic Unemployment Payment recipients should be asked to present at social welfare offices to prove they are living in the country, according to the head of the Restaurants’ Association of Ireland.

Adrian Cummins told RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon programme that he believes the social welfare payment is being defrauded and that it is leading to staff shortages in his industry and in others.

He argued the sectors such as construction, retail and hospitality are desperate for staff and are doing their utmost to attract employees.

“We have 110,000 people on the PUP payment at the moment.

"That’s nearly 20pc of where we were in May of 2020. We’ve a number of fully open sectors now… and these are sectors who are trying to attract staff back into the industry.

“As an association we’d like to ask the Department of Social Protection to ask these recipients to come into the social welfare offices to make sure that they are actually in the State at the moment. And that these people are not and have not left the Irish State and are receiving payments outside of the State,” he said.

Mr Cummins said he has “anecdotal” evidence that these practices are taking place.

He was challenged for his remarks on the programme, with Dublin Fingal Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly saying there is absolutely no evidence that people are taking advantage of the payment in this way.

“This is a very insidious campaign I think that’s being run against workers and I think it’s really deeply unfair because all of the available evidence suggests that when the work is there, that people are going back to work,” she said.

Speaking on the same programme, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon said the Department of Social Protection has contacted PUP recipients in some instances and that there is a helpline which employers can ring if they think someone is not returning to work purposely because they want to stay on the State support.

“If some employer is not happy that one of your employees has refused to come back to work - and is still in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment - there a support line for them to contact.

“If this was as widespread as is being suggested, then you would expect that line to be getting a lot of calls and it’s not getting them,” he said.

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