THE IRISH Government has voted to take their six week summer recess immediately, despite a concerning spike in coronavirus cases, schools set to reopen next month and questions remaining regarding the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
The Dáil sat until the early hours of the morning after proceedings were delayed following a row on speaking times for smaller parties which saw a walk-out by some in the opposition parties, and fierce arguments after multiple motions were voted down by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.
One such motion, tabled by Sinn Féin, requested an emergency debate next week regarding the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, but was rejected by the three Government parties as well as six regional independent TDs.
The debate would have seen the start of the Government's six week break delayed until next week.
Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment and Workers Rights, Louise O'Reilly, said a delay in the six week summer recess was vital in order for the Dáil to tackle the issues surrounding the PUP.
"There are many questions which need to be answered about this situation and it cannot be let slide off the agenda due to the Dáil recess," Ms O'Reilly said.
She called for Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphries to face questions in the Dáil surrounding the PUP "given the serious nature of this matter, and the doubts cast on the legality of the action" by the Data Protection Commissioner.
The PUP has been a source of controversy after it was revealed that hundreds of people had had their payments cut for attempting to travel abroad, with the Government now saying that anyone on the payment must remain in the country and be actively seeking work-- despite many recipients being bar workers, whose businesses are not set to reopen until at least 10 August.
'Thousands' of others have had their payment reduced despite working full time before the pandemic hit, according to the Labour Party's Aodhán Ó Riordáin, who said "This is a complete mess".
"The Dáil needs to be recalled next week and the Government must correct this and to allow applicants to combine PAYE and self-employed earnings to qualify for PUP and to end this discrimination against arts and other workers who have a mix of PAYE and self-employed jobs," he added.
The motion was voted down and the Dáil will not return until the 15th of September.