LIMERICK TD Willie O'Dea has challenged the Government on its proposed emergency legislation to assist the country throughout the extensive Covid-19 pandemic.
Among his many suggestions in the Dail chamber this Thursday afternoon was to provide old age pensioners a lump sum payment in order to avoid frequent visits to their post office.
Minister for Health Simon Harris introduced the bill to the Dail, which will see measures to increase the sick leave to €305 per week for those who are infected with the virus, as well as protections for those who are laid off work due to the massive decline in trade.
Deputy O'Dea said he was not happy with the Government's approach, and that it didn't change the social welfare system, but gave the Government more power to change the rules "on which we are not entirely clear".
Limerick TD @willieodeaLIVE has challenged Minister for Health Simon Harris on the emergency social welfare legislation for #Covid19 that’s being proposed in the Dail. Largely around semantics but some on practical grounds, such as:— Fintan Walsh (@FintanYTWalsh) March 19, 2020
"There is a suggestion that pensioners should be paid three or four times' their pension in one lump sum, which would enable them not to have to visit the post office or have a nominated deputy, which many are unhappy with, to visit the post office."
He also questioned the Government on its projected crisis spend of €2.5bn, asking how many people does this major expenditure represent.
He asked the Minister to act on management companies of some apartment blocks "who are making no effort whatsoever to keep the tenants' shared areas clean".
He asked the Minister about the challenges facing healthcare workers unable to afford childcare during this time.
"Is the Minister aware that many healthcare workers—and God knows we need every one of them that we can get our hands on—many have approached me and have said that they will have to stay at home to mind their kids while the creches are closed because they have to pay a retention fee to the creche, and they simply cannot afford the cost of bringing in a childminder."
The debate on the new, extensive legislation is to be debated this Thursday, by a small number of 30 TDs under a strict social-distancing regime.