Wednesday, 10 December 1941
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. D. Bourke: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that in the administration of the Unemployment Assistance Acts tradesmen are compelled, alternatively to being refused unemployment assistance, to do work wholly alien to their trade and for which they are unsuited, and if he will take steps, by having the said Acts amended, if necessary, to prevent such a social waste.
Mr. Lemass: I am not aware of any case in which unemployment assistance has been refused to an applicant because he refused employment for which he was unsuited. One of the statutory conditions for the receipt of unemployment assistance requires an applicant to be genuinely seeking and unable to obtain employment suitable for him. This does not mean that an applicant need take only the kind of work he likes best. It was never the intention of the Unemployment Assistance Acts that unemployment assistance should be available for an unemployed tradesman who, when he had no prospect of work in his own trade, chose to remain unemployed rather than take other suitable work which was within his capacity. I do not propose to introduce legislation to alter this position.
Mr. Keyes: Is the Minister not aware that linotype operators and electricians have been debarred from unemployment assistance because of their refusal to take concreting work in connection with relief schemes?
Mr. Keyes: Does the Minister realise that if these men take up this work of concreting they will be rendered unsuitable for going back to their own crafts? Surely the Minister must be  aware that cases of that kind have arisen within recent times.
Mr. Lemass: The matter is not one for decision by me. The terms of the Act are specific and it is really a matter for the unemployment assistance officers, subject to an appeal to the Court of Referees.
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