OPINION: Ged Nash: ECB and EU must also step-in to support those who've lost jobs or at risk of losing jobs


Ged Nash


Ged Nash

GE2020: Ask the candidate: Ged Nash

GE2020: Ask the candidate: Ged Nash

Written by Ged Nash, TD for Louth

We are truly living in extraordinary and unprecedented times.

Nobody could have possibly predicted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our daily lives.

In Dundalk alone, hundreds of local businesses have shut up shop. Temporarily, we hope.

Dundalk’s F.Cs defence of their League of Ireland title has been suspended after just five games.

And students and staff have seen their classes cancelled, with ground at DkIT now becoming a construction site for a Covid-19 test centre.

Life as we know it has been suspended. It cannot be business as usual.

At the time of writing, there are currently 1,564 confirmed cases, with 9 tragic deaths.

Those affected have been of all ages, with both young and old at risk.

However, we all know this figure doesn’t and can never reflect the real number of cases. For every one confirmed case, there are more than that may go undetected.

Some carriers may have only mild systems or none at all.

Yet critically, they are still contagious, with studies suggesting they are the main source of the virus’s spread.

This is why it is absolutely crucial for everyone in our community to follow the expert public health advice on social distancing, hand washing and coughing etiquette.

We all have a part to play, and it is only through shared solidarity, collective action and a selfless concern for others can we overcome this challenge.

Simply put, we need to stay at home for the sake of our own health, the health of our loved ones and our frontline health, retail, transport and law enforcement heroes.

But the State also has a crucial role to play.

Workers who have lost their jobs, or have their jobs at risk, must be supported.

And the firepower needed cannot come from the Irish taxpayer alone or through State borrowing exclusively.

The ECB and EU must step-in.

Local businesses in Louth and across the country must be cushioned from this external shock.

To bounce back quickly, we must maintain the link between workers and employers during the crisis.

This will avoid costly severance payments in the short-term, while ensuring firms don’t have to pay for finding and training new staff in the long-term.

That is why I worked with trade unions to develop a Danish-style Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme which will keep more people in work, protect their incomes and maintain their human dignity.

While it will also enable businesses in Dundalk to re-open their doors and bounce back quickly when the crisis abates.

And when they do, we as a community need to be there to support them - for instance, by continuing to shop locally - as it is essential that we don’t turn a temporary health emergency into a prolonged economic crisis.