The government is examining if thousands of seasonal workers in the tourist sector can avail of the Covid-19 unemployment payment.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, confirmed the move to Fine Gael colleagues during a private teleconference meeting.
Mr Griffin warned that some 200,000 out of 260,000 in the tourism sector were out of work because of the pandemic. He also warned only “a fraction” of the 11 million overseas visitors to Ireland, recorded last year, would come here this year.
TDs during the meeting were told that Mr Griffin is pushing for Ireland's seasonal tourism workers to be able to claim the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) of €350. They cannot as they were not working in February, prior to when the pandemic took hold - a requirement under the rules for claiming the emergency payment.
However, officials in the Department of Tourism say there are records from previous years which could prove seasonal workers had employment and this could be used to justify letting them claim the payment. Department of Social Protection officials, though, are less enthusiastic about the option.
"It's impossible to try and prove someone might be potentially employed somewhere," said a department source.
According to party sources, Mr Griffin said those workers, who number in the thousands, usually were in employment between May and September. He told colleagues he is currently in talks with the Department of Finance about trying to find a way to support those workers.