The vast majority of Pandemic Unemployment Payment cases stopped as a result of the compliance checks at airports relate to individuals leaving the country permanently, according to the Department of Social Protection.

Yesterday it confirmed that 104 cases of PUP had been halted as a result of these airport checks.

"The eligibility criteria have always been clear that a recipient must be living in the State in order to receive a Pandemic Unemployment Payment and cannot be absent from the State," the Department said in a statement.

"The PUP is not paid to people who are leaving the country to reside elsewhere or who go on holidays abroad. Neither is the payment paid to individuals during a 14 day quarantine period."

As part of its normal control work, the Department said it carries out compliance inspections at ports and airports throughout the year.

Since 2012, social welfare inspectors have had legal powers to carry out these checks as part of the ongoing control and compliance work they are engaged in.

The statement said: "The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) does not pass information to the Department. The Department does not have access to travel data, nor does it have access to travel locator forms from any airport or port.

"These compliance checks involve inspectors speaking directly with passengers and any information gathered is only used for the purpose for which it is gathered. It is an offence for a person to obstruct an Inspector when carrying out their duties.

"The vast majority of PUP cases stopped as a result of the compliance checks relate to individuals leaving the country permanently. If a person returns to Ireland it is open to them to re-apply for the PUP."

Dublin Airport confirmed "for the avoidance of doubt, we are not sharing passenger data with any third party agencies".

The Department of Social Protection said the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team is to avoid overseas travel. "This is in order to protect our citizens as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"In cases whereby people need to travel overseas for essential reasons, the Department of Social Protection will continue to pay the PUP to these recipients.

"Examples of this would be travelling abroad due to bereavement or to care for a sick family relative."

The Department said the rules about not travelling abroad currently apply to Jobseeker's payments as the Department of Social Protection temporarily suspended the normal two week holiday period for jobseekers.

This information was notified to Intreo centres at an earlier date.

"In normal circumstances, there is flexibility under Social Welfare legislation whereby a person in receipt of jobseekers can leave the country for up to two weeks without this affecting their payment, provided they notify their local Social Protection Office in advance," it said.

"However we are not living in normal circumstances. Given that the clear public health advice is not to travel abroad except for essential reasons, the Department temporarily suspended this flexibility on 10 July."

Earlier today, both Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said people receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) should be seeking work.