Ireland receives 58,000 applications for emergency jobless payment

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland has so far received 58,000 applications for a new emergency welfare payment for employees and self-employed people who have lost their jobs or had hours cut as a result of coronavirus, its social protection minister said on Thursday.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has estimated that 100,000 people or more - almost 5% of the workforce - could lose their jobs by the end of March and the government has called on any shuttered business that can keep paying their staff to do so and that they would later be compensated by the state.

"We've never experienced a challenge in the department as we have at the moment. I know some people have likened it to what happened in 2008 and 2009 but what happened over months and months is happening over the last three days," Minister Regina Doherty told a news conference.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Alex Richardson)