Simon Harris condemns "downright stupid" comments about student PUP payments
He also said the Government will be outlining a roadmap to begin removing emergency payments at the end of the month.
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has condemned comments made by an unnamed Minister last week regarding students in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
On Monday, the Irish Daily Mail reported that one Government minister had expressed concern over the number of students claiming the PUP.
The anonymous Minister said, "having 47,000 lying in bed enjoying the PUP grant is an astonishing number" adding "there is a real danger we are going to develop a culture of welfare dependency in our students."
Speaking on Today With Claire Byrne, Harris said that the comments were "ignorant", "crass" and "inappropriate" adding that the past year had been "extraordinarily difficult" for students.
"If I knew the name of that Minister I would have rang them up and told them that their comments were inappropriate, ignorant, and downright stupid," he said.
"This year has been extraordinarily difficult for everyone in our country, we don’t need to go through that again, and it’s been particularly difficult in many ways for younger people.
"Anybody who would suggest that any student is wrongly claiming the PUP doesn’t understand the law of the land.
"We made a decision in the last Government, in March 2020, that anybody who lost their employment before 13 March as a result of the pandemic was in a position to seek emergency assistance from the State, that is the Government’s position, that has been the Government’s position."
Harris also said that the Government will be outlining a roadmap to begin removing emergency payments at the end of the month.
"Of course, our big job of work now, being quite honest with you, if you’re a student or not a student, whether you’re a young person or an old person, is to get people off emergency supports and get them back into work, because that’s what students want, students who have part-time jobs, and it’s also what people want in this country.
"I wouldn’t support any approach that would specifically target one group in society, I don’t think we should take a divisive approach of targeting one group over another.
"Of course though, just to be really clear, the Government will have to outline a roadmap as to how we’re going to move from emergency payments across a whole range of areas over the coming months, and the Government is intending to do that towards the end of this month."