Tested Negative And Petty


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (top) at a press briefing in Government Buildings last night

Last night.

During a press briefing in Government Buildings.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he had “heard stories of people who had asked their employers to lay them off because they’d be better off” on the €350-per-week Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment than working 20 hours a week for €11 per hour.

Do the maths, yourself,” he told journalists.

This is the full exchange Mr Varadkar had with a journalist about the matter.

Journalist: “Just in relation to…I think we saw 280,000 people or so applying for the PUP and having it accepted. I’ve seen some reports of people who perhaps, have got this payment, who didn’t have a job beforehand.

“I’ve even saw reports of somebody in Australia who’s received this payment. Are you are worried about people who are receiving this payment who haven’t, who aren’t entitled to it?”

Leo Varadkar: “Well, certainly, I certainly would be worried if anyone would receive the payment who’s not entitled to it and that would go for any payment that the Government gives.

“A lot of our response was a response that was an emergency response that we wanted to make sure that what we did for people who lose their jobs, for people who are self-employed whose businesses close, for businesses that needed to keep on workers but who couldn’t afford to pay them. We wanted to make sure that whatever we did got money to companies and to people quickly.

“And also was easy to administer. So you’ll see, in contrast you’ll see, in other jurisdictions, in the UK for example, the money that self-employed are getting, they won’t get until June. Whereas self-employed people in Ireland are already in receipt of the payment if they need it.

“And not all of them but a lot of them. And again we want to make sure that companies were getting the money right away. And they are.

“But inevitably the perfect is the enemy of the good and what we did was good, I think, in terms of supporting people’s incomes and supporting business. It’s not perfect and there are going to be loads of anomalies.

“And I know one of the anomalies has arisen is that there are people who are working part-time, for example, who were earning less than €350 a week who lost their jobs and now, actually, might be slightly better off. And then there are other people who are getting the payment but are losing more, if you like.

“But it was always going to be the case that when we acted quickly, as we did, that anomalies would arise. And we’ll try and deal with them as we go along. But our main objective was to make sure that nobody was going to run out of cash.

“That people had a safely net for them. And in having a much generous safety net than is the case in other jurisdictions, again for example, north of the border, people are applying for Universal Credit and it’s about hundred pounds a week. Contrast that with €350 a week here. You know, we didn’t want to overcorrect the other way, where we’d be leaving people short. So there will be some people who’ll actually end up better off as a result.

“But they will be small in number and that was price worth paying to make sure that the vast majority of people had a decent proportion of their incomes protected.

“And, you know, I have heard stories of people who have asked their employers to lay them off because they’d be better off on the €350 payment than maybe working 20 hours a week for €11. You know, do the maths, yourself.

“And I would just say to anyone who is thinking of that, we are all in this together and nobody, in any walk of life, should seek to be better off, or seek to make profit out of this crisis.”


Watch back in full here

Previously: Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All on Broadsheet

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35 thoughts on “Tested Negative And Petty

  1. class wario

    FG are ideologically opposed to the idea of the welfare state and this is him simply making sure to tie everything they do in response to this crisis back to their own ideological leanings

      1. class wario

        He has taken the premise of the question and added his own additional spin/fearmongering to it. Are ye trying to argue that his “well I heard so and so” adds something to it? Or that he *had* to say that having been asked a broad question? About as much value added as if he’d ranted on about 5G

        1. Janet, I ate my avatar

          ok I see where you are coming from, I read it as apposed to listened so I gave a more charitable tone I guess

  2. class wario

    presumably they’ll be passing legislation to freeze banks accruing interest on loans/mortgages frozen due to covid-19 related unemployment on account of being so opposed to people ‘profiting’ off this LOL

  3. Janet, I ate my avatar

    like he said for most it was a drop and it evens out across the board, protecting people who may be living paycheck to paycheck quickly,
    I think they acted well on this, stopping panic and actually allowing people to stay at home instead of seeking nixers etc out of desperation,
    also consider a lot of those laid off were high risk of spreading or being carriers as they probably worked with the public in close conditions, many tourists, I’m thinking bars , restaurants or as in my case museums

    1. Clampers Outside


      And he is right, there are employers who are concerned…

      Paraphrasing here, but I’ve heard this myself… “how can I get someone back to work on €200/week if they get €350 from the state?”

      Yes, it is an imperfect ’emergency’ payment without normal checks and balances, so of course there are anomalies. But for a change, the lower paid, not the well to do, are the ones benefiting from the anomalies.

      1. Janet, I ate my avatar

        well maybe they should be paid a living wage the rest of the time too :)

          1. george

            Some people just can’t stand the idea that people who are worse off than them might get a little more. Bernie Sanders gave a good speech in response to Republicans who were worked up that some low paid workers would be earning more than normal for a couple of weeks while at the same time they are calling for the government to protect large businesses.

          2. Clampers Outside

            +1 George, I agree.

            But do note, the employer I spoke with wasn’t coming from that position.

  4. V

    I’d love to know who Leo is knocking around with that’s telling him these stories

    Hardly Dr Mattie

    1. Cian

      Joe Duffy possibly. There were people on last week giving out that they had lost their full-time jobs and only getting the 300; but knew others lost their 1-day-a-week-minimum-wage job and were also getting the 300. And how unfair it was.

      1. V

        So the leader of Fine Gael
        And our current acting Taoiseach and Minister for Defence
        Is using the Joe Duffy Show as a source, and to quote from in his responses

        Well wtf does he need you
        Or Concannon for then

        And it looks now like RTÉ will start to be far more expensive to keep on the Government Payroll

        Tell ye what lads
        Social Distancing and Staying together by Standing Apart (or whatever the eff tis) won’t get a look in if they’ve given a Bail Out

        1. Clampers Outside

          Ah now, hang on, you’re using the comments section of Broadsheet to confirm Leo’s sources?
          Willyassshhhtopit like :)

  5. Smith

    Always shows his true colours in the end – any chance to vilify the poor, and propogate the idea that people who need welfare payments are spongers. His weird look of sincerity is pathetic too.

        1. Clampers Outside

          Fair enough. I was being specific to the current discussion of the content of his speech above.

  6. Emily Dickinson

    Funny how questions get asked about welfare cheats but not about the massive windfall profits being made by the insurance sector.

    The country is now being billed twice for access to private hospitals. The government is paying. And people with health insurance (roughly a third of us) are also paying. These premiums, perhaps €300m a month, are now basically just pure profit for the insurers.

    And, of course, while the private hospital sector has ceased to exist, and huge numbers of people have lost their jobs, the government have ensured that no one can cancel a policy without facing massive lifetime financial penalties.

    The day we switched to a single-tier health service is the day all private health insurance should have been suspended.

    1. Cian

      I was thinking about this:
      1. VHI (+ others insurance companies but keep it simple) provide multiple services. They still employ people, they are still running the Swiftcare clinics, they still have the nurseline open.
      2. They are building a backlog of care needed – so when everything re-opens they will still need to pay for the care. The same number of (say) hip-replacements need doing this year – it’ll just be done over 10 months rather than 12.

      Saying that – I think there will probably be fewer overall cases – so there should be some ‘discount’ for the COVID-19… just not 100%.

      1. Zaccone

        A big chunk of private health insurance claims, for the under 35s especially, result from accidents though. Car accidents, sports accidents, work accidents etc. Almost none of which are happening now because of Corona.

        This demographic has a much lower chance of using their private healthcare for illnesses like cancer, heart attacks, etc that are common amongst older people.

        So they’re not exactly getting great value for money paying for the private health insurance during however long we’re locked down.

  7. A Person

    Hey Mick “I work for the Soc Dems and therefore am not politically motivated” Caul, how do you know that this is bull’s poopy pop pops.

  8. GiggidyGoo

    Having said all of that, Laya sent an e-mail last friday saying ‘Today we are announcing that we plan to introduce a measure of financial support for all our members on private healthcare schemes in response to the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) crisis.’


    ‘We will update you as a matter of urgency once details become clearer. We are due to meet with the Department of Health and other Government and industry stakeholders next week and will push for more clarity to allow us move quickly to announce details of a financial support package for our members.’

    We wait.

  9. Emily Dickinson

    Yeah, I’m with Laya and got the email. Coincidentally, all their direct debits for April were collected today. So that’s the first full month of windfall banked.

    I get that there are other minor services provided like Health Coaches and Nurselines etc, but basically private health in Ireland has stopped and we’ve moved to a single-tier system. Correctly so, in the circumstances. Private health insurance should have been paused the day that happened.

    And it wouldn’t be a terrible shock if we never returned to the old system. No great loss, perhaps.

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