Deputy Pearse Doherty, has today called on the Government to extend the €1,000 Pandemic Bonus to carers as well.
He raised the issue with the Tánaiste during Leader’s Questions in the Dáil.
The Sinn Fein TD said “Yesterday, the Government announced that some healthcare workers would receive a €1,000 bonus payment for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am sure that this is welcome news for many of those who will receive it. However, there remains a high level of ambiguity about who exactly will receive the payment.
“The Government has not been clear about this over the past 24 hours. I would appreciate some clarity as to how who will be able to receive the payment will be determined and when they will receive it. For example, what about the cleaners in hospitals and other agency staff who are not directly employed by the HSE? Will they be entitled to this €1,000 bonus?
“The group of people who feel most let down by this omission so far are family carers. As the Tánaiste knows, family carers provide care that is very specialised, intense and intimate. They of course deserve recognition from everyone in this House, but they deserve more than just a pat on the back or soft words.”
The Donegal Deputy said that over the course of the past two years, carers have seen their respite as well as access to day centres for those whom they care for curtailed.
He added “This has increased what was already a significant workload for family carers. As a consequence of this, the State has saved money but the care they provide already saves the State hundreds of millions of euro every year. There is no use in telling carers that they will get an extra public holiday instead because family carers do not get the benefit of public holidays. Theirs is a 24-7 role.
“Indeed, family carers have said that it will probably put more pressure on them because day services and schools will close that day, meaning that family carers and full-time carers will have no supports that day. Their extraordinary efforts during the pandemic must be recognised. Will the Government do the right thing and move to ensure that those in receipt of the carer’s support grant also qualify for the €1,000 bonus payment? It is the least they deserve.”
“This morning, the Taoiseach announced on “Morning Ireland” that a panel will be established to examine the categories of worker to be included in the Covid-19 bonus payment. This raises a number of questions that the Tánaiste might be able to answer. Who will appoint the panel or has it already been appointed? Have its terms of reference been agreed by the Cabinet and what are they? Who will the panel report to and when will we see a report? When will people know whether they are in or out?”
He added that while yesterday’s announcement was welcome, it is clear that the preparation has not been done, with many workers still not knowing whether they will receive this bonus payment.
He added “That is not fair. We understand that they will now be waiting on the work of this panel. There was no talk of a panel yesterday but it has now emerged that there will be one. This bonus payment was first promised by the Taoiseach in July, and the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform stated that it would be agreed and announced well in advance of Christmas, yet that did not happen.
“The Tánaiste is on the record of the House as saying that a bonus payment should not be limited to healthcare workers only. I am asking for clarity on these issues.