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Payment plea Sinn Fein call to restore pandemic unemployment payment until end of 2021

The party says the measure would give security to workers and families if more lockdowns are needed.

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Sinn Fein at the launch of their alternative budget 2021 (PA)

Sinn Fein at the launch of their alternative budget 2021 (PA)

Sinn Fein at the launch of their alternative budget 2021 (PA)

Sinn Fein have called for the full restoration of the pandemic unemployment payment until the end of 2021.

The proposal was outlined at the launch of the party’s alternative budget which calls for six billion euro in borrowing and taxes on high earners to raise an additional €1.5 billion.

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said restoring the payment would be “the smartest investment we ever make” as the country seeks to recover from the economic damage of the pandemic.

Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said: “This is the time to make the investment in the economy.

“The question is not that we do too much. The danger is, as a country, we do too little. Because by doing too little it means that jobs will be permanently lost.

“It means that companies will not be supported. It means that our economy will not recover in 2021 and beyond.”

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Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty outside Leinster House in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty outside Leinster House in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

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Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty outside Leinster House in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Cuts to the pandemic unemployment payment have seen it reduced from €350 euro to €300 a week at the top rate.

People who previously earned less than €300 a week now receive €250 euro while those earning less than €200 now receive €203.

Ms McDonald denied that full restoration of the payment would be unsustainable, saying: “We believe it could be the smartest investment we’ll ever make.”

She said: “The facts are that if the state has to move to higher levels of public health restrictions, if that is what we have to do – and we may well have to do that – we have to ensure that there are fair and necessary supports in all of those areas for people who still have to live and who still have to pay their bills.

“We want this budget to be the opportunity to repair that and to get us to a stable, certain footing that if it comes to a point where interventions and more restrictions have to be made that families and workers have some certainty and some level of fairness.”

The party says the measure would cost an additional 1.5 billion euro on top of what has already been committed to by Government.

Other proposals in the budget submission include a reduction of the VAT rate for the hospitality sector from 13.5% to nine per cent for 2021.

Sinn Fein have also proposed a three-year rent freeze and to give one month’s rent of a value of up to 1,500 euro back to renters at a cost of 257 million euro.

There is also a proposal to create 1,100 additional hospital beds and 100 extra ICU beds at a cost of almost one billion euro.

Among the revenue-raising measures outlined are new taxes on people earning above €100,000 a year.

They would see their tax credits reduced up to a point of €140,000, after which they will avail of no tax credits.

Those earning over €140,000 would be asked to contribute an additional three per cent “solidarity tax”.

Those two measures would raise up to half a billion euro, the party said.

Mr Doherty said: “Without ambition, the threat of this virus will be accompanied by a surge in unemployment.

“But we are in a position to act. With the ECB’s pandemic emergency purchase programme remaining in place until the Covid crisis is over, the interest rates are historically low.

“There has never been a better time to borrow, to support and to rebuild.”

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