Leo Varadkar’s negotiation tactics with EU over Irish border shamed: ‘That was wrong’

The then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who is now the Tanaiste, negotiated the Northern Ireland Protocol with Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year.The protocol aimed to prevent a hard border arising on the island of Ireland, by ensuring a customs border would go down the Irish Sea instead. Northern Ireland would still leave the EU along with the rest of the UK, but would continue to follow the bloc’s trade rules for the single market and customs union.

This agreement was seen as a breakthrough at the time, and meant the withdrawal agreement could be passed into law.

However, the issue of the Irish border has returned to the forefront of ongoing Brexit rows recently after Mr Johnson proposed the Internal Market Bill.

The bill showed the Prime Minister had been true to his word in allowing Northern Ireland “unfettered access” to British markets — but it does breach elements of the protocol in the process.

Downing Street claimed the EU was even threatening to blockade British goods from entering Northern Ireland.

First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster spoke out about the matter this week and said it was important for the bill to establish “unfettered access” across the UK.

She explained: “The EU needs to stop using Northern Ireland to get their own way.

“We are not the plaything of the EU and it causes great difficulties here in Northern Ireland when people use Northern Ireland in that fashion.”

She went on to attack Mr Varadkar for using an old newspaper report of an IRA terror attack on the border in conversation with the EU back in 2018.

READ MORE: How Johnson’s new bill risks surge in calls for Welsh independence

As the Belfast Telegraph reported: “It was the worst attack on a customs post during the Troubles and the single biggest loss of life of customs officials (four).”

It continued: “Customs posts were regularly targeted by the IRA throughout the Troubles as they viewed them as symbolic of the division between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

“There have been fears that checkpoints could return to the Irish border in the event of a hard Brexit and that this could again lead to violence.”

Yet, this week, Ms Foster urged EU officials to focus on east to west access, rather than always prioritising the Irish Border.

She said: “There needs to be an acknowledgement that east/west — the integrity of the UK— needs to be protected as much as having to deal with the north/south trade.”

Ms Foster has been pushing the same message for some time.

For instance, back in October last year, she dismantled Mr Varadkar’s concerns about the Irish border which he demonstrated when he showed the EU the report of the tragic 1972 bombing.

She said: “Of course any violence or threat of violence should not be adhered to.

“[But] when Leo Varadkar talked about the possibility of dissident violence along the border, if there were any border infrastructure piece, I thought that was wrong.

“I said so at the time. Because you can’t use the threat of violence to achieve something.”

Ms Foster claimed that set a precedent with comments which could have motivated loyalist sentiment.

Earlier this week, Ms Foster also dubbed the issue of British goods being imported to Northern Ireland “straightforward”, adding that it “should not be used as a bargaining chip”, but solved quickly.



Macron SHAMED: Turkey brands French President’s intervention ‘arrogant’ in stinging jibe

Tensions between Greece and Turkey have escalated following a territorial dispute over a large portion of the East Mediterranean. Amid these tensions, Mr Macron urged fellow European states to take a firm stance against Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr Macron made the statement during a summit on the Mediterranean island of Corsica and insisted Europe must have a united voice against Turkey.

In response, the Turkish foreign ministry denounced Mr Macron’s “arrogant” statement on the incident.

The Ministry said: “French President Macron has once again made arrogant statements, in an old colonialist style.

“The statements also promote tensions and endangers the interests of Europe and the European Union.

“Macron attacks Turkey and our president every day because we thwart his insidious projects and his dirty foreign policy games.

“Instead of posing blindly as the advocate of Greece and the Greek Cypriots, France should adopt a position favouring reconciliation and dialogue.”

In a bold move against Turkey, Mr Macron had also claimed the country deserves better leadership.

The Turkish foreign ministry, however, disputed this claim and insisted Mr Erdogan is fully supported by the public.

It added: “Our president is one of the elected leaders with the highest percentage of votes in Europe.

JUST IN: EU row: Bloc ‘breaking international law’ over migrant crisis

Both Greece and Turkey have collided over the potential energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The two countries also share sovereignty of the island of Cyprus although Turkey only recognises the northern side.

Although the Greek military descended on the area, Mr Edorgan declared any aggression will be matched by Turkey.

Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has demanded the EU sanction Turkey and force the state to withdraw.

Writing in The Times, he said: “Later this month EU leaders will meet in special session to decide how to respond.

“If Turkey refuses to see sense by then, I see no option but for my fellow European leaders to impose meaningful sanctions.

“Because this is no longer just about European solidarity. It is about recognising that vital interests – strategic European interests – are now at stake.



EU shamed as protestors unveil embarrassing banner on Brussels parliament building

Brussels security has been called into question after five Greenpeace activists managed to scale the 14-storey facade of the Berlaymont building in the Belgian city to hang a 30-metre banner. The banner depicts a hole burned through the building, revealing the Amazon in flames, with the message “Amazon fires – Europe guilty”.

It has replaced the EU’s current banner to promote promoting the Union’s Next Generation recovery plan for the bloc’s economy crippled by the coronavirus crisis.

The activists also used smoke machines and fake ash to simulate the fires currently burning in the Amazon rainforest.

The protest was in response to the EU Commission’s decision to consider a new law to cut Europe’s contribution to deforestation.

Twitter users took to social media to hail the protest and said it proved Brussels security had “dropped the ball”.

One said: “#Greenpeace #Berlaymont Someone dropped the ball in the #security of the @EU_Commission”

Another said: “Yesterday the EU Commission building Berlaymont promised #nextgenerationeu

“Today it claims Europe to be guilty of Amazon fires.

READ MORE: What a waste! EU spends THOUSANDS on huge banner

“Greenpeace was busy this night. Now firefighters are busy thinking how to tear it down”

One posted: “Slightly different message on the Berlaymont today.”

Another added: “@greenpeace_be pulls off an amazing stunt at the European Commissions Berlaymont. Not a good day for the security..”

Sini Eräjää, Greenpeace EU agriculture and forest campaigner, said: “The Amazon fires might be far away, but Europe has added fuel to the flames.

“By buying meat, soy for animal feed and other products from deforested areas, Europe is complicit in the destruction of the Amazon and other ecosystems, driving climate breakdown and exposing us to dangerous diseases like Covid-19.

“Europeans should be able to do their shopping safe in the knowledge that nothing on the supermarket shelf is linked to forest destruction or human rights abuses – we need a strong EU law to ensure this.”

Fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest worsened in the first week of September.

Brazil reported 8,373 fires in its portion of the Amazon rainforest for the first seven days of September, more than double the number of fires in the same period a year-ago, according to data from Brazil’s national space research agency Inpe.

A pressing concern is that 27 percent of the major fires so far in September has been in virgin forest, rather than in recently deforested areas or farmland where blazes are more contained.

And Brussels has long been under fire for pledging to strike another free-trade deal involving Brazil.

An EU deal with the Mercosur – the South American trade bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – is in place and waiting for ratification.

But there are fears it will cause even more environmental damage to the Amazon rainforest.

The Berlaymont’s current banner promises the blocs initiative to “help repair the economic and social damage brought by the coronavirus pandemic, kick-start European recovery, and protect and create jobs, the European Commission is proposing a major recovery plan for Europe based on harnessing the full potential of the EU budget”.

Figures show the production, installation and removal of the banner cost €11,000 (£9,000) in 2015.

This is actually 20 percent cheaper than the average cost of €14,000 (£12,000) it had cost in previous years.



EU shamed as protestors unveil embarrassing banner on Brussels parliament building

Brussels security has been called into question after five Greenpeace activists managed to scale the 14-storey facade of the Berlaymont building in the Belgian city to hang a 30-metre banner. The banner depicts a hole burned through the building, revealing the Amazon in flames, with the message “Amazon fires – Europe guilty”.

It has replaced the EU’s current banner to promote promoting the Union’s Next Generation recovery plan for the bloc’s economy crippled by the coronavirus crisis.

The activists also used smoke machines and fake ash to simulate the fires currently burning in the Amazon rainforest.

The protest was in response to the EU Commission’s decision to consider a new law to cut Europe’s contribution to deforestation.

Twitter users took to social media to hail the protest and said it proved Brussels security had “dropped the ball”.

One said: “#Greenpeace #Berlaymont Someone dropped the ball in the #security of the @EU_Commission”

Another said: “Yesterday the EU Commission building Berlaymont promised #nextgenerationeu

“Today it claims Europe to be guilty of Amazon fires.

READ MORE: What a waste! EU spends THOUSANDS on huge banner

“Greenpeace was busy this night. Now firefighters are busy thinking how to tear it down”

One posted: “Slightly different message on the Berlaymont today.”

Another added: “@greenpeace_be pulls off an amazing stunt at the European Commissions Berlaymont. Not a good day for the security..”

Sini Eräjää, Greenpeace EU agriculture and forest campaigner, said: “The Amazon fires might be far away, but Europe has added fuel to the flames.

“By buying meat, soy for animal feed and other products from deforested areas, Europe is complicit in the destruction of the Amazon and other ecosystems, driving climate breakdown and exposing us to dangerous diseases like Covid-19.

“Europeans should be able to do their shopping safe in the knowledge that nothing on the supermarket shelf is linked to forest destruction or human rights abuses – we need a strong EU law to ensure this.”

Fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest worsened in the first week of September.

Brazil reported 8,373 fires in its portion of the Amazon rainforest for the first seven days of September, more than double the number of fires in the same period a year-ago, according to data from Brazil’s national space research agency Inpe.

A pressing concern is that 27 percent of the major fires so far in September has been in virgin forest, rather than in recently deforested areas or farmland where blazes are more contained.

And Brussels has long been under fire for pledging to strike another free-trade deal involving Brazil.

An EU deal with the Mercosur – the South American trade bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – is in place and waiting for ratification.

But there are fears it will cause even more environmental damage to the Amazon rainforest.

The Berlaymont’s current banner promises the blocs initiative to “help repair the economic and social damage brought by the coronavirus pandemic, kick-start European recovery, and protect and create jobs, the European Commission is proposing a major recovery plan for Europe based on harnessing the full potential of the EU budget”.

Figures show the production, installation and removal of the banner cost €11,000 (£9,000) in 2015.

This is actually 20 percent cheaper than the average cost of €14,000 (£12,000) it had cost in previous years.



'Same old, same old!' Labour shamed by Matt Hancock in Commons row over COVID testing

He said: “Mr Speaker, I’m going to depart from my script because I’ve heard and they say as before, and I’ve heard the people on the other side complain that we would never get testing going.

“And they’re the same old voices, the same old voices they opposed the 100,000 tests.

“And did we deliver that? Yes, we did.

“They’re saying what about the testing in care homes? Well, we delivered the testing in care homes earlier this week.

“They are against anything that’s needed to sort this problem for this country and they would do far better to support their constituents and get with the programme.

“And I’m looking forward to rolling out this programme.”

READ MORE: Covid rules: What is a household bubble? How many households can meet?

Mr Hancock said the new restrictions will not be kept in place “for any longer than we have to”.

Discussing the new “rule of six”, he told MPs: “As the chief medical officer said yesterday, we must learn from the recent experience of countries like Belgium who successfully put in place these measures to combat a similar rise in infections.”

Mr Hancock added: “These are not measures that we take lightly. I understand that for many they’ll mean changing long-awaited plans or missing out on precious moments with loved ones, but this sacrifice is vital to control the virus for the long term and save lives.

“And I vow that we will not keep these rules in place for any longer than we have to.”

Matt Hancock also pleaded with university students to “follow the rules”.

He told MPs: “Our goal as much as possible is to protect keeping schools and businesses open whilst controlling the virus.

“The data show that whilst the cases amongst 17-30-year-olds are rising, the number of cases amongst the under-16s remain very low, and we all know how important it is to keep schools open.”

On universities, Mr Hancock added: “The Department for Education has published the updated guidance for universities on how they can operate in a Covid-secure way, and this includes a clear request not to send students home in the event of an outbreak in order to avoid spreading the virus further across the country.

“If you are a student who is about to return to university or go to university for the first time then please, for the sake of your education and your parents’ and grandparents’ health, follow the rules and don’t gather in groups of more than six.”

DON’T MISS:
Lockdown rules: Who and where is exempt from new lockdown rules? [ANALYSIS]
Boris Johnson’s Moonshot plan rubbished by Dr Jenny Harries [VIDEO]
Boris Johnson warning: Tice says Coronavirus measures ‘going too far’ [COMMENT]

The Health Secretary told MPs that the average distance people have to travel to a coronavirus test site is 6.4 miles.

He said: “We’ve increased capacity by over 10,000 tests a day over the last fortnight and while there have been challenges in access to tests, the vast majority of people get their tests rapidly and close to home.

“The average distance travelled to a test site is 6.4 miles and 90% of people who book a test travel 22 miles or less.

“We already have more than 400 testing sites in operation, we added 19 next week and plan 17 more this week.”

Mr Hancock added that “if you do not have symptoms and haven’t been asked then you are not eligible for a test”.

Before Mr Hancock’s statement, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said: “The Secretary of State and I did have a conversation and meeting last night. Just to say I think we’ve got some new arrangements going forward to help the House.”



Ireland fury: Boris shamed by Taoiseach after Brexit plan shock – 'Stakes are VERY high'

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has arrived in London for the eighth round of official talks with the UK, having already set a “strict” deadline of October 31 for a deal to be agreed by in time for the end of the transition period on December 31. But Boris Johnson has infuriated senior European Union officials and leaders throughout the bloc after it was revealed his Government will table new legislation that threatens to override key elements of the withdrawal agreement with Brussels. Under the withdrawal agreement, Northern Ireland would continue to have custom-free links to the neighbouring Republic, with new customs borders built along the Irish Sea, but the new legislation would look to nullify this arrangement in the event of a no deal outcome between the UK and EU.

Downing Street has insisted changes in the Internal Market Bill are simply “limited clarifications” to protect the Northern Ireland peace process if they failed to secure a free trade deal with the EU.

But Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis provoked a furious reaction when he confirmed to MPs on Tuesday the legislation would breach international law in a “very specific and limited way”.

Now Irish Taoiseach Mr Martin has launched a stinging attack against Mr Johnson and his plan to override this key part of the withdrawal agreement, claiming the move “undermines trust” in the negotiations with the EU, warning it is now a “critical time” in the Brexit process, and the “stakes are very high”.

Mr Martin tweeted: “Any negotiation process can only proceed on the basis of trust.

BREXIT BULLETIN: Sign up for our special edition newsletter with exclusive insight from this week’s crunch talks 

“When one party to a negotiation decides that they can change what’s already agreed and incorporated into law, it really undermines trust.

“This is a critical time in the Brexit process and the stakes are very high.”

Mr Martin will speak to Mr Johnson to express “very strong concerns” about the plans, while his deputy Mr Varadkar branded it a “kamikaze” threat that had backfired.

He had said: “We’re extremely concerned about unilateral nature of the British Government’s action. The timing of this initiative, unilateral in nature, does not build trust.

READ MORE: Brexit LIVE: Boris unveils extraordinary list of rule changes

“I will be speaking later this afternoon with the British Prime Minister to register our very strong concerns about this latest development, and in particular the unilateral nature of it and the fact that it fundamentally is seeking to deviate from what is an agreed international treaty.

“I think it’s taken a lot people aback across Europe, and indeed in the United Kingdom itself, and it’s not an acceptable way to conduct negotiations.

“I spoke with the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, last evening and we both agree that this is a very serious development.

“In addition, I would say also the degree to which it drags Northern Ireland back into the centre stage is very, very regrettable. It has the potential to be divisive in that context and we will all work to make sure that does not transpire.”

DON’T MISS
Brexit news: Internal Market Bill explained – How could UK break law? [INSIGHT]
Andrea Leadsom savages Labour Kinnock with brutal Brexit dig [VIDEO]
Boris Johnson taunts Keir Starmer over embarrassing Brexit silence [COMMENT]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “very concerned” about the new intentions from the UK Government.

She tweeted: “This would break international law and undermines trust.

“Pacta sunt servanda = the foundation of prosperous future relations.”

The Latin phrase, meaning “agreements must be kept”, is a basic principle of international law.

Former prime minister Theresa May warned the Government risks losing the trust of other countries that it would honour its international agreements, while Labour described the admission as “absolutely astonishing”.

Former prime minister John Major echoed that warning to the Government and said: “If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained.”



Nicola Sturgeon shamed over independence 'obsession' as Scots voters reject SNP 'division'

Nicola Sturgeon announced a Bill setting out the proposed terms and timing for a second independence vote, as well as the question that could be asked, will be put before the Scottish Parliament in advance of the Holyrood election. South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine defended the First Minister’s announcement as a new poll by Panelbase found 55 percent of Scots would back independence. But Mr Mundell said he does not believe there has been a shift in public opinion.

Speaking to ITV’s Representing Border programme, Ms McAlpine said: “55 percent of the population now think its something that they wish. I think a single sentence delivery that lasted 45 minutes which covered a green recovery fund, inward investment fund, retraining of the people who have been made unemployed.

“I think that was a reasonable balance.”

She added that the announcement was appropriate as a single sentence within many other announcements.

But Mr Mundell interjected: “In our region, people are not in favour of independence.

READ MORE: Sturgeon and Boris clash as she accuses PM of blocking ‘democracy’ 

“Also I think most people regardless of their politics will be very disappointed in this division.

“This was an opportunity to unite Scotland, to focus on jobs, to focus on the financial crisis which has come as a result of the coronavirus.

“It wasn’t an opportunity for grandstanding.

“Every day we see Nicola Sturgeon go on the TV and tell us, we don’t want politics and when this opportunity came around, she was straight back on to her favourite obsession and banging the drum for independence.”

“They are very likely to have a majority in a parliament which is not designed to produce majorities and a by-product of that will be that there will unquestionably be a second independence referendum.

“If you look at current independence referendum polling there has been a considerable shift from No to Yes, around five or six percentage points in the last six months, really.

“And when you dig into who those people are, they tend to be people who voted No last time, that are under the age of 40, that consider themselves to be centre-left when it comes to social policy but want to own their own home, value their pension, want a nice holiday and a car in their driveway.

“And all the arguments around economic security that made them vote No last time have been quashed by Brexit because they are all predominately remain voters who feel very aggrieved by Brexit.”



Angela Merkel humiliation: Germany shamed over 'reaching EU emission target' claims

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Ms Seibt – who has been dubbed the anti-Greta Thunberg of climate change, reacted to the the German government and its admission that it would have missed its climate change targets if the “economic havoc wrought by COVID-19 had not caused a large drop in greenhouse gas emissions”. The EU has set member states numerous targets as part of its plan to eradicate CO2 emissions, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2050. Germany, the EU’s biggest carbon emitting nation, had planned to cut its emissions to 40 percent, which would have seen its levels drop to the smallest since 1990.

But in a damning blow, the country’s environment minister Svenja Schulze said that with its current policy efforts, it would have only reached 37.5 percent emissions cut.

She added: “We have learned the right lessons from past failures.

“Every year we will check whether we are on the path we have agreed, and take further action if necessary.”

Ms Seibt claimed it was “impossible” for a nation such as Germany to reach such high targets from the EU.

She also condemned the likes of Mrs Merkel, the German Chancellor, and others who will celebrate a lowering of greenhouse gases as a result of nationwide lockdowns across the world.

Due to the lockdowns during the outbreak, many nations have demanded citizens no longer go out “unless necessary” as they attempted to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This has led to improvements with the planet’s environment but, at the same time, an estimated 835,000 people have perished at the hands of the coronavirus.

Ms Seibt said: “They should never draw conclusions from the coronavirus about climate change because if this pandemic is really that severe, which they claim it is, then you can’t at the same time say ‘there are billions of people affected by this virus, thousands dying, but we’re making progress with climate change’.

JUST IN: Merkel’s debt nightmare: Germany set to add £70billion to debt

Ms Seibt said: “I think it’s impossible to hit those targets because we have shut down all of our nuclear energy sources in 2010 because there was a lot of fear mongering about that.

“The only way you could ever reach those targets was if you reduce all fossil fuel and C02 emissions and that means only relying on alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, which in Germany it doesn’t work due to the weather, and we don’t have access to the sea.

“It doesn’t make sense.

“It’s impossible to just rely on those unsustainable energy sources. I don’t even like the term alternative energy sources, because this is not an alternative.

“This is just fun and games, a scientific experiment you would carry out with a 10-year-old. It’s not something that will sustain a population and keep them alive without energy.”



Angela Merkel humiliation: Germany shamed over 'reaching EU emission target' claims

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Ms Seibt – who has been dubbed the anti-Greta Thunberg of climate change, reacted to the the German government and its admission that it would have missed its climate change targets if the “economic havoc wrought by COVID-19 had not caused a large drop in greenhouse gas emissions”. The EU has set member states numerous targets as part of its plan to eradicate CO2 emissions, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2050. Germany, the EU’s biggest carbon emitting nation, had planned to cut its emissions to 40 percent, which would have seen its levels drop to the smallest since 1990.

But in a damning blow, the country’s environment minister Svenja Schulze said that with its current policy efforts, it would have only reached 37.5 percent emissions cut.

She added: “We have learned the right lessons from past failures.

“Every year we will check whether we are on the path we have agreed, and take further action if necessary.”

Ms Seibt claimed it was “impossible” for a nation such as Germany to reach such high targets from the EU.

She also condemned the likes of Mrs Merkel, the German Chancellor, and others who will celebrate a lowering of greenhouse gases as a result of nationwide lockdowns across the world.

Due to the lockdowns during the outbreak, many nations have demanded citizens no longer go out “unless necessary” as they attempted to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This has led to improvements with the planet’s environment but, at the same time, an estimated 835,000 people have perished at the hands of the coronavirus.

Ms Seibt said: “They should never draw conclusions from the coronavirus about climate change because if this pandemic is really that severe, which they claim it is, then you can’t at the same time say ‘there are billions of people affected by this virus, thousands dying, but we’re making progress with climate change’.

JUST IN: Merkel’s debt nightmare: Germany set to add £70billion to debt

Ms Seibt said: “I think it’s impossible to hit those targets because we have shut down all of our nuclear energy sources in 2010 because there was a lot of fear mongering about that.

“The only way you could ever reach those targets was if you reduce all fossil fuel and C02 emissions and that means only relying on alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, which in Germany it doesn’t work due to the weather, and we don’t have access to the sea.

“It doesn’t make sense.

“It’s impossible to just rely on those unsustainable energy sources. I don’t even like the term alternative energy sources, because this is not an alternative.

“This is just fun and games, a scientific experiment you would carry out with a 10-year-old. It’s not something that will sustain a population and keep them alive without energy.”



Sturgeon SHAMED: SNP caught sitting on emergency welfare fund as unemployment soars

The claims come from a new report from the Poverty and Inequality Commission, which showed a shocking drop in budget usage compared to 2019. The Scottish Welfare Fund offers grants to people in need, and is allocated by local authorities. In June, it was announced by the Office for National Statistics Scotland has the highest rate of unemployment in the UK, at 4.6 percent, after the coronavirus pandemic brought industries to a halt.

The report from the PIC showed this year has seen only 15 percent of the emergency fund dispensed to families in crisis.

Between April and June, only £8.6 million of the total fund was paid out.

Proportionally, the SWF is suggested to have paid out 25 percent, or £14.4 million, in the same period.

The spending of the fund during lockdown was £1.1 million lower than the same period in 2019.

READ MORE: Boris confronts Sturgeon as ‘petty’ SNP try to BAN words ‘UK and British’ from key event

Bill Scott, PIC chairman, held the effect of the pandemic on those with low incomes was “drastic”.

He added: “We know that local authority staff have been committed and worked diligently through a challenging time to meet the needs of vulnerable people.

“Yet, the SWF remains underutilised, to the detriment of those who need access to it’s funding the most.”

Mr Scott continued to say local authorities were not advertising the fund enough to those in need, calling it “unacceptable that the SWF is not being promoted properly and that known barriers to accessing this vital support still exist”.

He also said: “People must know where to go for financial assistance and then receive necessary funding easily and with dignity.

“Our report raises a number of issues about the SWF that we will seek to resolve with the Scottish Government with the utmost urgency.”

A Scottish Government spokesman hit back at the report’s claims.

He said: “We more than doubled the Scottish Welfare Fund to £80 million this year to ensure there is additional financial support to people coping with the economic impacts of coronavirus. It is then administered and distributed by local authorities.

“It is important that awareness of the fund is high so that as many people as possible who need the support are able to access it when they need it.

“We thank the Poverty and Inequality Commission for their recommendations, which we will consider.”

It comes as the latest youth unemployment figures from the ONS showed an average of 30,000 16 to 24-year-olds were out of work between April 2019 through to March 2020.

IPPR Scotland has warned the amount of young people looking for work may top out at a record high of more than 140,000 by the end of the year.

Russell Gunson, director of IPPR Scotland, said: “If these projections turn out to be true we will see youth unemployment on a scale we’ve never seen before in Scotland later this year.

“Over 100,000 young people – or more than one in three of Scotland’s young workforce – could be unemployed by the end of the year.

“This is unprecedented and will need unprecedented action over the coming weeks and months without delay.”