I was let go two weeks ago and signed on. I rang the social welfare office and they said that there is a six week backlog. How am I to survive with no money for the next month? It is a disgrace. My rent is due next week. Luckily I have enough to cover that. After that I have nothing — I mean nothing. So many people are in the same boat. The Government needs to act swiftly to help people this Christmas and emergency staff need to be brought in to clear the back log over the next ten days. This has to be done. What sort of Christmas will the people of Ireland have?
The man who sent me that e-mail is one of many ordinary citizens who are suffering the indignity of losing their jobs and having to sign on. I had the unpleasant experience of having to sign on in 1986 and 1987. I had to go to hatch 4 in the old labour exchange in Cork to claim a miserly £49 a week.
In response to a recent Dáil question tabled by my colleague, Deputy Enright, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Deputy Hanafin, said that an additional 115 staff, at clerical and staff officer level, are to be assigned to these duties and arrangements are to be put in place for them. Looking at the data supplied, it seems that not one of the 115 staff in question has been assigned to the city of Cork. I am open to correction on that, and if I am wrong, I will stand corrected. As things stand, people have to ensure a six-week interregnum.