Banks must stop & return fees during Covid19 Emergency – Matt Carthy TD

Banks must stop & return fees during Covid19 Emergency – Matt Carthy TD

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, today described the actions of AIB in charging their customers, most of whom have lost their jobs, quarterly fees as scandalous.

He reiterated the call of his party’s Finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, for all banks to cancel the fees charged and to refund those customers who have lost their jobs.  Separately, Deputy Doherty has written to the Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe and Central Bank raising the issue of banks charging additional interest on mortgage-holders who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Matt Carthy said it was now time for the government to get tough on those banks who are fleecing consumers.

Deputy Carthy said:

“Tens of thousands of workers who have just lost their jobs and income as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak received their first COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 this week.  This payment will be needed for those workers to pay their bills and feed their families.


“Many of those people will have been stunned to find out that, on the same day AIB, instead of providing relief to these customers, have deducted quarterly fees from their accounts.  This is a scandalous action on the part of a bank that was previously bailed out by those same workers.


“These fees do not apply to customers with more than €2,500 in their accounts, but if you have just lost your job as a result of this outbreak they do.


“I have been in contact with several people in Co. Monaghan who have lost their jobs as a result of this emergency.  They are concerned as to how they’ll get through this period financially.  They need and they deserve support from institutions.  Instead the banks have responded with a kick in the teeth and some AIB customers were hit with quarterly fees by AIB of up to €100.


“All banks must now agree to stop any fee deductions from those who have lost their incomes as a result of the pandemic.  AIB should return the monies deducted this week.


“On March 18th the Government and Banking and Payments Federation announced a suite of measures adopted by the five commercial banks to provide relief to customers.

“But, we now know that this has involved the banks charging customers additional interest of as much as €2,000 for applying for mortgage breaks.  To learn that they are still charging quarterly fees of up to €100 to customers who have just lost their jobs is further proof that the toxic culture within Irish banking has not changed.


“The government now needs to get tough with the banks.  The State is the major shareholder in AIB.  It is time for the Government and the Central Bank to demand that all banks start playing a constructive role during this crisis.”


Government must reverse discrimination against northern workers in Pandemic Unemployment scheme – Matt Carthy TD

Government must reverse discrimination against northern workers in Pandemic Unemployment scheme – Matt Carthy TD


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has confirmed that he has been lobbying the Minister for Social Protection to demand that she reverse the disgraceful position that denies workers who are based in the north, who have paid their taxes and PRSI in this State, are denied access to the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.  Deputy Carthy said that the issue is particularly pronounced in his own constituency where he has liaised with dozens of cases where workers are denied supports while their colleagues can access them.


He said:


“It is unacceptable that thousands of workers – who have paid their taxes and social insurance like everyone else – are not able to access the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Benefit because they happen to live in the north.


“These workers are being asked to apply for Universal Credit in the 6 Counties and this is causing serious economic hardship for these workers and their families.


“I have been lobbying the government for the last week but they have failed to address this disgraceful anomaly.  I have written to the Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty, who has yet to even respond which is very disappointing.


“This payment must be made available to all those who worked in this state and who paid their taxes and PRSI.  This issue is particularly pronounced in border counties like Cavan and Monaghan.  Over the past week I’ve dealt with dozens of people affected.  In some cases company employees that live just a few miles from their workplace are denied payment while their colleagues elsewhere can receive this support.  That is an unjust and unfair situation that must be addressed.


“This is an exceptional and emergency payment and it should be paid to all workers on an equal basis.  We in Sinn Féin will continue to press on this matter and I call again on the Minister and her colleagues in government to do the right thing”.


‘Government should protect parents’ and cancel all school tours – Carthy

‘Government should protect parents’ and cancel all school tours – Carthy

The issue of school tour operators retaining significant portions of payments made by parents for upcoming trips for their children is causing anxiety and concern at a very difficult time, according to Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy.

The Cavan-Monaghan deputy revealed that he had been in contact with a number of secondary schools and students’ parents, who were worried that their money was going to be retained by third party travel companies for European tours ‘that are not now going to happen’.

Deputy Carthy outlined the problem in a letter to the ministers for foreign affairs and education to highlight the issue this week.

He said: ‘This issue has been brought to my attention a number of times in the last fortnight, since all schools were closed due to the Covid-19 crisis.

‘I have been contacted by a number of secondary schools in my constituency about problems they are experiencing regarding school tours, organised by third party companies, which the parents of their students have paid for and are due to take place in late April and early May.

‘I have seen correspondence to the parents and to the organising teachers from these tour companies, which are based in Ireland, stating that because the tours are booked for four to eight weeks hence, they are not cancelling them because there is no directive from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

‘These tours are to parts of Europe which have been very badly affected by the Covid-19 crisis and are, at the moment, in lockdown.

‘However, the tour companies are pressurising parents to make the call to cancel the trips themselves so the companies can say they were cancelled by parents and therefore they are not entitled to all their money back’.

Mr Carthy said one of the schools affected has around 25 parents who have already paid €410 for the cost of the trip, over a period of months.

He said the tour company is insisting that because there is no government advice at this stage, they continue to plan for the trip.

He said: ‘This is despite the fact that, in reality, there is no way these students will be going anywhere in the next couple of months – and the tour companies know it.

‘By pressurising parents to say they don’t want their children to go, leading them to cancel the trip themselves, the tour companies are insisting that they get to keep a large proportion of the monies already paid. This is incredibly unfair but parents and teachers feel they have no choice because of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

‘This is another source of worry, anxiety and indeed frustration for parents at a time of unprecedented global crisis and I have asked the ministers to issue a statement saying that all school trips for the 2019/2020 academic year should be cancelled immediately.

‘I think this would give parents the security of knowing that the trips are off because of a government directive and they should, in this instance, get all their money back.

‘I have urged the ministers to give this matter their urgent attention because, as the days tick by without any resolution, parents are facing the prospect that nearly all of the money they have paid will be withheld by these tour companies’.


Carthy hits out at Banks’ plans to profit from Covid-19 pandemic

Carthy hits out at Banks’ plans to profit from Covid-19 pandemic

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has hit out at what he described as banks ‘outrageous’ plans to profit from the Covid-19 pandemic.

He has supported the call of his party’s Finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, that the Central Bank and the Minister for Finance to step in and force banks to step up to the plate at a time of national emergency.

Deputy Carthy said:

“This is a time of national emergency.  It is a chance for banks to show some semblance of humanity and decency.


“Despite repeated promises from banks of a payment holiday for customers through the Covid-19 pandemic emergency, they have refused to ensure that mortgage interest will not accrue for those that can’t make mortgage payments because of financial difficulties.


“This means, for example, that people with a €200,000 mortgage will pay nearly €2,000 more over the lifetime of their mortgage because of these arrangments.


“This is how banks are intending to profit out of this crisis and this is a new low on their part.


“Sinn Féin want the Central Bank and the banks called in by the government and this to be addressed as a matter of urgency.  Our Finance Spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, has already been in contact with the Minister for Finance and the Central Bank in relation to this matter.


“The fact that banks are already charging double the average EU interest rates for mortgages is indicative of their attitude to customers  and illustrates that the banking culture has not changed.


“The banks need to step up now and waive all interest during the period of emergency for those who have trouble paying their mortgage.  Their efforts to profit from this emergency mark a new low and must not be tolerated.”


Carthy expresses disappointment that Government’s Covid-19 proposals fall short of what is required

Carthy expresses disappointment that Government’s Covid-19 proposals fall short of what is required


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has said that’s weeks announcements by government in respect of facilitating physical distancing and providing income support at this time of crisis ‘fall short of what is required’.  While saying that some moves by government are welcome, and in line with what Sinn Féin have called for, he said that movement has been too slow.


Deputy Carthy said:


“The Covid-19 pandemic is an emergency that must be tackled head on.  This requires urgent action on the part of government but I fear that the additional measures announced this week fall well short of what is required.  The decision to limit the criteria for testing is particularly worrying.


“Workers and their families are being placed at risk because we have not moved to shut down non-essential business activity.  There can be no further foot-dragging, people are rightly looking for a common sense approach to this.  Many employers also want this to happen and are waiting for the guidance to take this necessary step.


“Obviously, to facilitate this there needs to be urgent action taken to ensure that those who are impacted are protected financially.


“Sinn Féin’s proposals in this regard would guarantee 100% of income up to €525 a week for workers and the self-employed who are laid off due to this crisis.


“The government’s proposal this week unfortunately comes nowhere close to that and does not go far enough.  €350 is not enough for people who have lost their jobs.  They will not be able to cope, to pay their mortgage or their rent and their bills, and for an adult with an adult dependent they would already be entitled to nearly €350, so this is of very little benefit to them.


“This shows how little is being provided to those who need it most and falls well short of what is needed to support workers and their families at this time.


“I think it is disappointing that the government has chosen to drag its feet and has resisted taking the decisions that need to be taken if we are to really going to get ahead of this virus.  While some measures are welcome, and are in line with what Sinn Féin have been calling for, much more needs to be done.  Further delay is not acceptable.


“The priority needs to be protecting people and saving lives.”


‘Forgotten’ stranded Irish in Australia need government’s help now – Carthy

‘Forgotten’ stranded Irish in Australia need government’s help now – Carthy

Thousands of young Irish people are stranded and ‘forgotten’ in Australia because of the Covid-19 pandemic and are ‘begging’ for their government’s help right now, according to Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said he had been contacted this morning by constituents who are working in Perth and Sydney, desperately seeking help now that Australia has been put on lockdown and all non-essential services have been halted.

Mr Carthy said the current situation in the country for tens of thousands of young Irish people is ‘dire’ because they are on working holiday visas and are not entitled to State assistance from the Australian government.

In addition, almost all flights in and out of the country have been suspended, leaving thousands of Irish people, mostly aged between 20 and 30, with ‘absolutely no means of living during this lockdown and no means of getting out’.

Mr Carthy has today contacted Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and Minister of State with responsibility for the Global Irish, Ciarán Cannon, to highlight the situation.

He said: ‘This is a global pandemic that is affecting every country in the world. There are thousands upon thousands of young people stranded in Australia at the moment who have told me they feel like they have been forgotten by Ireland.

‘Many of them are on working holiday visas and with the lockdown of Australia in the last 24 hours, thousands of them are suddenly out of work and have no way of supporting themselves during this crisis because they don’t qualify for assistance from the Australian state.

‘They are desperate to get home, but even if they can get a flight, they are being quoted between AUS€10,000 and AUS$16,000 to get home, which is way beyond their means. They are terrified, they tell me, and they are begging the Irish government to help them’.

In his letter to Ministers Coveney and Cannon, Mr Carthy asks that the government considers chartering special flights to get those who want to come home out of Australia. He has also asked that they consider giving direct financial aid to the Irish on visas in Australia who have no way of supporting themselves.

He said: ‘We need to look after our people, no matter where they are. The situation is unique and unprecedented and the government needs to step up and assist the thousands of Irish in Australia using every and all means at their disposal’.




Carthy calls on government to increase support to local radio & newspapers

Carthy calls on government to increase support to local radio & newspapers


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has backed calls for positive action to support local radio stations and newspapers during this difficult period.


Carthy commended his party’s Communications spokesperson, David Cullinane, who has proposed a number of initiatives to government aimed at protecting local media through the Coronavirus emergency.  One proposal made by Sinn Féin is that Government Departments commission increased advertising in local papers and radio which can both disseminate important information to the public while in turn providing financial support to local media outlets.


Speaking in support of the measures, Deputy Carthy said:


“It is at times like this that the true value of local media is recognised.  Communities in my own constituency of Cavan, Monaghan and North Meath would be lost were it not for the vital local and regional information being imparted by outlets such as the Northern Standard, Anglo Celt and Northern Sound radio.  But, they are facing their own emergency and they must be helped by government.


“Over the last few days our party spokesperson, David Cullinane, has engaged on our behalf directly and constructively with Minister Richard Bruton on solutions needed to support local print and broadcasting media.


“For my part, I welcome the temporary waiver of the Broadcast Levy and I support the call for greater flexibility in releasing funds under the Sound and Vision Scheme.


“Equally, local print media needs urgent support.  A crash in advertising revenue is having a devastating impact and is threatening the viability of local and trusted newspapers.


“It is in this vein that Sinn Féin have asked Minister Bruton to establish a fund to be used by government Departments to advertise important information and updates on measures to combat COVID-19 in local papers.  These can relate to health, employment rights, employer obligations and other general advice to the public.


“This would fulfil a number of purposes – it would help further disseminate accurate information to the public through reliable and trusted local publications, while also providing much needed revenue for local newspapers.


“This is a serious and precarious situation for all sectors of the economy. We must do all we can to protect the vital services that local broadcast and print media provide.”


Sinn Féin proposals for bailout to workers & families must be adopted – Matt Carthy TD

Sinn Féin proposals for bailout to workers & families must be adopted – Matt Carthy TD


Cavan Monaghan TD, Matt Carthy, has called on all parties and the government to get behind the Sinn Féin proposals for an Income Support Scheme to bailout workers and families and to save businesses.


The scheme, proposed by Sinn Féin’s Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, would benefit every worker laid off as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and would ensure that everyone who earns up to €32,500 a year would receive their full wage for the next 20 weeks.


Deputy Carthy said:


“The scale of the economic challenge we are facing as a result of the Covid-19 crisis is immense and unprecedented.  Immediate action is required to support businesses and the tens of thousands of workers and families who will struggle to survive during this emergency.


“Extraordinary measures are required in extraordinary times.


“That is why Sinn Féin have said clearly that it is time for a bailout for workers and families, and to support small businesses.


“Sinn Féin is proposing the immediate introduction of an Income Support Scheme to pay all workers who are laid off as a result of the Covid-19 crisis their income up to €525 per week for 20 weeks.  The scheme would be applied retrospectively from 9th March.


“This will benefit every worker and would mean that every worker who earns up to €32,500 a year would receive their full wage.


“Those earning above this amount will also have this support, and the scheme would allow for employer top-ups to supplement their income.


“Pro-rata rates would apply to those who have had their hours reduced and the self-employed are also included in the scheme.


“It is proposed that this scheme will be paid through the employer, who would maintain workers on the payroll in order to avail of the scheme and they would be reimbursed by the State.


“Sinn Féin have also called on the European Investment Bank to introduce emergency measures that will allow businesses to access zero interest loans to cover costs during this crisis and this would be based on the employer maintaining workers on the payroll and re-employing them.


“This will be an important intervention which would give workers and families some level of security during this crisis and also allow the maximum number of businesses to survive.


“It would also put us in a stronger position to rebuild the economy and society on the far side of this crisis.


“Over a decade ago this state bailed out the banks to the tunes of tens of billions; now is the time to bail out our workers & families and our small businesses.  Sinn Féin have shown how this can be done.  I hope other parties and the government will adopt this scheme as a matter of priority”.


Carthy calls on Government to include Funeral Directors in Coronavirus planning

Carthy calls on Government to include Funeral Directors in Coronavirus planning


Speaking this weekend, Cavan Monaghan TD, Matt Carthy, has called on the government to ensure that representatives of funeral directors are included in discussions relating to the preparation for the Coronavirus emergency.


Deputy Carthy said that, while the hope must remain that deaths from Covid-19 will be minimised, it is nevertheless imperative that measures are taken to ensure that funerals are organised in a dignified and safe manner.  Funeral Directors, he said, will find themselves at the frontline and therefore need supports from the National Public Health Emergency Team.


The Sinn Féin representative said:


“I have been contacted by funeral directors in my constituency who are deeply concerned about the level of preparedness in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis.


“Specifically, they are concerned that as Funeral Directors, they have to be on the front line of a potential emergency situation with very little specialised training or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and, yet, will be expected to manage the transfer of the deceased within their local community from family homes and nursing homes.


“I have written to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health asking them to ensure that proposals from Funeral Directors will be serious consideration by their respective departments and by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).


“In the first instance I have requested that the NPHET include the Irish Association of Funeral Directors in its discussions on forward-planning over the coming days.


“Secondly, I have called on the NPHET to adopt the proposal that specialised teams in each county, coordinated by local government and made up of Emergency Responders (fire staff) and Funeral Directors who can be quickly resourced and trained in transfer in safe working practices, use of PPE and equipment and desensitized techniques to manage the safe collection and transfer of the deceased from the place of death to local mortuaries (existing or temporary) or funeral homes, be actioned without delay.


“I believe that the constructive manner in which Funeral Directors have approached this emergency situation is welcome and therefore I trust that the government will respond positively to the proposals that they have made.


“Our hope must be that deaths from Covid-19 are minimised and that these measures will not be over-utilised; however we have a responsibility to ensure that every funeral is organised in as dignified and safe manner as possible.”


Sinn Féin reps on hand to provide practical assistance during Coronavirus restrictions – Carthy

Sinn Féin reps on hand to provide practical assistance during Coronavirus restrictions – Carthy


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has said that he and other Sinn Féin representatives remain on hand to provide any practical assistance during the period of Coronavirus restrictions.  While party offices will remain closed to the public for the time-being Deputy Carthy urged members of the public to get in touch by phone or email if they need any supports.


Acknowledging that the past week has been unprecedented the Sinn Féin representative confirmed to the Northern Standard that his work as a TD continues and, in the first instance, that means being a voice for his constituents.


Deputy Carthy said:


“This past fortnight was been tumultuous and strange for our communities, for many it has been a worrying time.  Since the 2nd March, when we had to cancel at the last minute, the Sinn Féin public meeting due to be held in Cavan that evening, our party have made contingency plans to prepare for the restrictions that we have since seen.


“Once our party leader, Marylou McDonald, called on the government to move to close schools and cancel public gatherings we knew that we would have to lead by example and close our offices to the public.  That was put into effect since last Thursday morning.


“While our offices are closed, phonelines do remain operational (Monaghan 047-82917 and Carrickmacross 042-9674001) and emails are checked regularly (; we have dealt with hundreds of enquiries over the past week and expect that work to continue”.


Carthy confirmed that the Sinn Féin negotiations team, of which he is a member, continues to meet albeit via conference call facilities.  He says he is in regular contacts with several government departments primarily now regarding Coronavirus related issues but also ongoing representations which also need to be addressed.


“Over the course of the last week I have, for example, been in contact with the Minister for Children on behalf of Childcare providers and their staff.  Some departments are better than others at responding quickly and, we know, all are under immense pressure.  But, peoples livelihoods are in the balance, several people have lost their jobs overnight or took a huge cut in hours, businesses are worrying whether they’ll ever reopen.  Therefore, it is the job of elected representatives to bring all of these concerns to government and statutory agencies and it is their role to put minds at ease as speedily as possible.


“As a father I know that everyone’s first interest is ensuring the health and safety of their families.  Communities in Co. Monaghan are to be commended for their adherence of the official advice so far.  Those workers who have remained on duty – whether they be in our local authority and other statutory bodies, in utility companies or in the retail sector ensuring we can access food and other essentials – each deserve great credit, they are the reason we’ll get through this.  In the meantime, everyone else has a role in protecting those who can’t stay at home so I would urge people to distance themselves from all non-essential contact with others and, of course, wash hands regularly.


“If you need help or assistance there are several public service helplines in operation, but people should always feel free to contact myself and other Sinn Féin representatives who will remain on hand to provide any practical assistance required”.


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