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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 23 Nov 1927

Vol. 21 No. 17


asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether his attention has been called to the claim to unemployment insurance benefit, dated 26th October, 1927, of John Brett, Cinema Operator, Windmill Hill, Kildare (Serial No. 2472) employed at Sandes Home Curragh Camp, from February, 1924, to 11th August, 1927, when he was discharged owing to shortage of work; whether his employer refused to stamp his card for this period, and, if so, what action he has taken or intends to take to force this employer to have the stamps placed to the credit of the claimant, so that benefit may be paid to him.

A claim to unemployment insurance benefit made on the 26th October last by John Brett, Windmill Hill, Kildare, was disallowed by the insurance officer on the ground that no contributions had been paid in respect of the claimant. It is understood that the claimant was employed at the Sandes Soldiers' Home from February, 1924, to August, 1927. Contributions under the Unemployment Insurance Acts have not been paid in respect of his employment, the employers when requested to pay alleging that Brett was employed in domestic service and consequently was not insurable. Further inquiries are being made into the circumstances of the employment, and when all the information required is obtained the question in dispute will be decided. If the decision is that contributions are payable in respect of Brett's employment steps will then be taken to enforce payment.

As the Deputy is no doubt aware, insured contributors are entitled by Section 24 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, to sue employers for any benefit they may have lost by reason of the employer's failure or refusal to pay contributions in respect of their employment.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he is aware that about 12,000 citizens of the Saorstát are affected by the lack of reciprocal agreements with the Governments of Northern Ireland and Great Britain in the matter of unemployment insurance benefits for merchant seamen, and whether the Minister intends to give this matter immediate attention, in view of the hardships inflicted on this large number of citizens, and further, if he is aware that in the Kinsale district alone about 300 people are adversely affected in this matter.

I would refer the Deputy to the replies given on the 19th December, 1924, to Deputy Alfred Byrne and to Deputy Thomas Johnson, and, again, to Deputy Alfred Byrne, on the 15th February, 1927, to questions asked by them concerning the position of seamen and insured persons generally who are affected by lack of reciprocal arrangements under the Unemployment Insurance Acts with the Governments of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. These replies set out the position at considerable length and indicated that on his part everything possible had been done by the Minister to secure a reciprocal agreement, but that proposals for such an agreement were not being entertained by the other parties concerned. The position is still the same.

I am not sure what adverse effects are referred to in the last part of the question. If it is that Irish seamen are paying contributions while employed on ships registered in Great Britain, then, as was recently explained to the Dáil, the deduction of contributions from their wages in these circumstances is illegal. On confirmation that it is taking place, I will communicate with the British Ministry of Labour and have no doubt that Ministry will assist in bringing the practice to an end. If, however, the grievance is that seamen domiciled in one country and serving on a ship registered in another have no means of bringing themselves into insurance, I can do no more than I have done, in proposing reciprocal agreements, to secure that if they pay contributions to one country's fund they can receive benefit from the other.

I may add that the grievance of seamen through the reluctance of the other Governments to make reciprocal agreements are much less than those of workers on land, since the seamen are not legally liable to pay contributions and they can't get benefit, whereas the other workers, domiciled here, but employed in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, are liable to pay contributions though they are not able to obtain benefit.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that officials of the Six-County Government have stated they are prepared to enter into reciprocal arrangements with the Saorstát Government, provided the Saorstát Government are prepared to pay the same rate of benefits as is paid in the Six Counties, and, in view of this fact, is the Saorstát Government prepared to consider that they should pay as high a rate as is paid in the Six Counties and in Great Britain?

Arising out of the Parliamentary Secretary's reply, which is, in effect, that the position is as it was at the time of his reply to Deputy Johnson, can the Parliamentary Secretary inform the Dáil or has he any recollection of the reply made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce to me during the course of the unemployment debate, in which he stated that there were certain cases in which he could act, cases relating to men about whom he had got reciprocal arrangements so far as Ireland was concerned? Will the Parliamentary Secretary explain what cases he referred to, and the nature of the agreements entered into?

I think I have referred to them in my answer to the Deputy, and if he makes representations to me about these cases I will take the action I stated. I think Deputy Cassidy's question is covered by the replies given on December 24th and to-day. The Minister for Industry and Commerce stated that he has done everything possible to get reciprocal arrangements.

My question was: Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that officials of the Six-County Government have stated that they are prepared to enter into reciprocal arrangements provided the Government here have the same rate of unemployment benefits?

I am not responsible for statements made by officials of other Governments. I know that we have no power to go any further than we have gone.

Is the Minister aware that men demobilised from the British Army are in a similar position, and will he make representations on their behalf too?

All insured persons are covered in the representations we have made.