“unusual patterns of dole claimants”

The Belfast Telegraph reports a complaint, by Donegal Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh, of “unusual patterns of dole claimants” in certain towns.

Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin confirmed the problem was so serious it had been raised at a formal meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council by her SDLP counterpart Margaret Ritchie. The minister also noted that this activity “wasn’t confined to Donegal but was a feature of all border counties”. She also said: “We were always conscious of the problem because our rates have always been more generous, but the collapse of the sterling differential poses a new challenge to everyone to be even more vigilant.”

[Un-patriotic? – Ed]

, , , , , ,

  • Quagmire

    Remove the border = problem solved. Many unionists claim that some nationalists would vote to retain the border in the event of a referendum for fear of losing their benefits i.e. £60 a week. In light of the extraordinary £200 a week received in the Republic, the logical conclusion would be to join the Republic and get more money. £200 a week is better than some jobs pay in the north.

  • blinding

    No reflection specifically on Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh(I am sure he is beyond reproach)

    But how come so many politicians in the South begrude the ordinary Joe/Josephine jumping on the gravy train and milking the system for alls it worth.
    The politicians have gorged themselves in the good times but if you are not one of their elite then you are expected to play by all the rules when their role is to subvert them for the maximum possible gain.
    Don’t do as I do do as I say!!

  • cynic

    Will there be a similar crack down on Grannying in the North?

    After all, if the Republic is good enough to murder thousands of people for, surely it’s good enough to educate your kids in when you live there?

  • Take care what you wish for: you may get it.

    Does this have even a small parallel in the other topics which have cropped up in the not-too-distant past? Things like school admissions, use of NHS services — or even Ann Marie Hourihane’s piece in today’s Irish Times.

  • niall

    The common Travel Area kept the Republic afloat with remittances back when Lenihan the older was stating the republic couldn’t support the population.

    The prics paid for the CTA was the border. The price of the Border was Strabane et al.

    To be honest the free state governance is so crap I wouldn’t care if i was doing the border double, you’d never get caught.

    Tough shit Joe. You’re a politician who has publicly stated a problem. More fool you for taking responsibility on this, you’ll not beat the lads.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Does anyone remember granny dumping? If I recall correctly, it flourished in the 1980s.
    Irish families would place their unwanted elder in a nursing home in NI, pay the first month’s fees and then stop, passing the burden onto British taxpayers.

  • Reader

    Quagmire: Remove the border = problem solved.
    It depends on what someone reading the article thinks is the actual problem.
    For instance, if the problem is Nordies getting their mitts on Southern cash, then removing the border will only make it worse – the subvention adds up to a lot. But unionists don’t care about that problem…
    And if the problem is that some people are getting away with parasitic and exploitative life choices, then that happens on both sides of the border anyway. And there are technical fixes, now that the RoI establishment has decided to care about the public finances.
    And if your problem is that unemployed unionists haven’t already jumped for the new half-crown a couple of years ago – does that maybe mean you missed the point?

  • patriot

    ‘Does anyone remember granny dumping? If I recall correctly, it flourished in the 1980s.’

    Really. You neither understand or empathise with the victimhood, and therefore profound entitlement, which motivates the oppressed to, uh, dump. It does have some historical precedent. Take a broad considered look and you will see the ‘dumpers’ are actually victims of a cruel history. a history for which they cannot be assigned any account or responsibility.

    Read on and right on…

    ‘Between July 13 and 16, 1863, the largest riots the United States had yet seen shook New York City. In the so-called Civil War draft riots, Irish immigrants, bloodily protested the federally-imposed draft requiring all men to enlist in the Union Army. The rioters took out their rage on their perceived enemies: the poor African Americans—their rivals in the city’s labor market—for whom the war was being fought.

    The IRISH criticized the federal government’s intrusion into local affairs on behalf of the “nigger war.”
    IRISH rioters’ targets initially included only military and governmental buildings. But by afternoon of the first day, Irish rioters had turned to attacks on black people, and on things symbolic of black political, economic, and social power. IRISH rioters attacked a black fruit vendor and a nine-year-old boy at the corner of Broadway and Chambers Street before moving to the Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue between Forty-Third and Forty-Fourth Streets. By the spring of 1863, the managers had built a home large enough to house over two hundred children. Financially stable and well-stocked with food, clothing, and other provisions, the four-story orphanage at its location on Fifth Avenue and Forty-Second Street was an imposing symbol of white charity toward blacks and black upward mobility. An infuriated mob, consisting of several thousand Irish men, women and children, armed with clubs, brick bats etc. advanced upon the Institution.
    When an IRISH observer of the scene called out, “If there is a man among you, with a heart within him come and help these poor children,” the mob “laid hold of him, and appeared ready to tear him to pieces.” Rioters tortured black men, women, and children. © Collection of the New-York Historical Society
    The Irish man who castigated the mob for not helping the black children was not the only white person punished by rioters for seeming overly sympathetic to blacks.

    Irish rioters subjected black men to the most brutal violence: torture, hanging, and burning. Black men and black women were attacked, but the rioters singled out the men for special violence. On the waterfront, they hanged William Jones and then burned his body. IRISH dock workers also beat and nearly drowned Charles Jackson, and they beat Jeremiah Robinson to death and threw his body in the river.

    IRISH men made a particular sport of mutilating the black men’s bodies, sometimes sexually. A group of IRISH men and boys mortally attacked black sailor William Williams—jumping on his chest, plunging a knife into him, smashing his body with stones—while a crowd of men, women, and children watched. None intervened, and when the mob was done with Williams, they cheered, pledging “vengeance on every nigger in New York.”

    An IRISH labourer rousted black coachman Abraham Franklin from his apartment and dragged him through the streets. A crowd gathered and hanged Franklin from a lamppost. They cheered for Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president. After the mob pulled Franklin’s body from the lamppost, a sixteen-year-old IRISH man, Patrick Butler, dragged the body through the streets by its genitals. Black men who tried to defend themselves fared no better.

    With these actions IRISH workers enacted their desires to eradicate the working-class black male presence from the city. The Longshoreman’s Association, an essentially IRISH labor union, patrolled the piers during the riots, insisting that “the colored people must and shall be driven to other parts of industry.”

    It has been suggested that the act of rioting may itself have released guilt and shame over former interracial pleasures. Finally, and most simply, IRISH workers asserted their superiority over blacks through the riots. IRISH workers sought to remedy their upside-down world through mob violence.’

  • Matt

    Can you enlighten us bout the 12th century,or 13th for that matter….be more interesting for 21st century political purposes…good ole romanist plot would fit the bill…dont under estimate your capacity to crash into the future lookin into the rear view mirror!…

  • patriot

    ‘Can you enlighten us bout the 12th century,or 13th for that matter….be more interesting for 21st century political purposes…’

    And yeah Matt actually I could. I am an Orthodox Christian. But that is neither here. Or there. By the by, I note you are agitated but do not dispute the facts I put forward. Quelle surprise. So let us deal with the wounded. Cos I do feel your pain.

    You know Matt, you are right. Citations of history are quite apposite in modern Ireland. As your dismissive comment suggests, history has no relevance, well at least to the Irish or to Ireland. ‘Cept when it serves their victomhood.

    I find your smug dismissal of history refreshing…

    Let us once and for all banish the past, and like you, live in the everpresent NOW.

    Failing that, should we chose the centuries, and places, we examine with greater precision? Or at least agree an algorithm that satisfies your essential bigotry?

  • Expense

    If you think Margaret Ritchie will do anything forget it. She is the do nothing Minister

  • NCM

    Maybe some towns are particularly hard hit economically. Maybe poor people make rational choices and don’t wish to starve so they seek out the best welfare system possible. Maybe the problem is a system that ships jobs overseas to foreign slaveshops and then stigmatizes the resulting class of people who can’t find work at home because there isn’t enough to go around. Maybe the problem is the bankers and the financiers who farm off of others’ labor. Maybe the problem isn’t the poor but the system that makes them and keeps them poor. Maybe this whole thing is built on false premises and these need to be addressed, not the oh-so-clever artful dodgers who make such a windfall on the dole, enough to buy dinner and a shirt or two.

  • Quagmire, white van operatives might well be able to claim benefits in both jurisdictions whilst gainfully employed, wages cash-in-hand.

  • Danny O’Connor

    no she is not ,you must be mistaking her for Catriona and her non-compulsory guidelines on selection,with schools millions short in maintainance budgets,Nero Ruane fiddling while the education system implodes.

  • Cushy Glenn

    Thanks for that very interesting post. I remember once being told by a black American that the most racist people in NY were the Irish, and that’s why many of them went into the cops. That was in the post war (WW2) period.Perhaps it was just a folk memory, but you are right to draw our attention to it

  • Mack

    Cushy Glenn

    Perhaps it was just a folk memory, but you are right to draw our attention to it

    Eh? How on earth is it relevant?

    I don’t doubt it’s veracity for a second. It’s well established that those Irish who emigrated to the USA tended to become, er, rascists. While those who emigrated to Britain did not. Neither outcomes says anything about those who remained behind, much less says anything relevant than Northern Irish criminals stealing Irish tax payers money.

    Most of the replies in this thread have been of an incredibly low quality (once again subjected to Niall’s Irish can’t govern bullshit, and a torrent of whataboutery related to criminality by southerners – or in the case of ‘grannying’ mostly Derry people who purchased cheaper property over the boarder in Donegal).

  • Mack

    Typos –
    “anything relevant about

    border not boarder.

  • Grumpy old man

    In this link it doesn’t add the word Irish along with the rioters and in some cases when the word Irish is added it identifies them as helping the black victims.


  • Grumpy old man

    It seems Google has censured quite a large proportion of Leslie M. Harris’s book ‘In the Shadow of Slavery’.

    Pages 265-280 are not included and page 281 begins with, [i]’the mob refrained from assaulting the children. But when an Irish observer of the scene called out, “If there is a man among you…'[/i]

    It seems to appear that the Irish are not necessarily part of the mob.


  • Dev

    Sorry if I’m being slow on the up-take but what does the racism of Irish immigrants in America in the 1860s (a well known period of racial harmony among nations other than the clearly proto-Nazi Irish) have to do with people nipping over the border to claim the dole?

    If it is now the case that, in response to stories about possible benefit fraud, posters are allowed to engage in slagging of an nation because of the actions of some people from that country 150 years let me be the first to say that the Swedes (150 years ago) were a horrible shower of bastards.

  • Mack


    No signal, just noise.


  • May I concur with Dev on Feb 03, 2009 @ 12:41 PM and some previous commentators?

    If we are going to have a full-blown discussion on the politics of Irish-Americans in the 19th century, can we have a separate thread? I know I’m one of the worst offenders for side-tracking, but the New York draft riots of July 1863 seem somewhat remote from the original thread.

    Anyway, we’ve been that way before on previous threads: I recall it appearing briefly last March.

  • Driftwood

    I believe we discussed this on an earlier thread, now lost in the mist..
    Back on thread
    With Cowen struggling to recoup the massive hole in public finances, what is to be done?
    Resentment against Nordies will be a new phenomenon?

  • Glencoppagagh

    Mabye squeaky Barry should be encouraging young shinners to sign on across the border as a further contribution to ‘blurring the border’. They can have forms with nice Irish symbols on them and maybe a few words of Irish as well.
    It’s bit cold to be out painting post boxes at the moment.

  • Expense

    Danny O’Connor

    “You said Margaret Ritchie is not, I must be mistaking her for Catriona and her non-compulsory guidelines on selection,with schools millions short in maintainance budgets,Nero Ruane fiddling while the education system implodes.”

    Why not list Ritchie’s achievements.

  • niall


    If you make a false declaration re bank accounts, circumstances, address, savings etc it is a crime?

    Fraud i’d imagine?

    Instead of Joe trying to shift the focus from failures in governance by the gombeens onto nordies why not just convict someone? Anyone?

    No chance because the free state govt spends a fortune on wages but nothing on implementation of governance.

    Cash flow may be king but substance deserves the odd consideration.

    Bullshit you may hear from me but can you at all see where i’m coming from?

    People elected to govern like Joe should try to enforce good governance not just stir the pot to manipulate focus.

  • Danny O’Connor

    More new build social housing,more money to tackle fuel poverty,more community projects -eg,areas at risk,town centre regeneration projects,she is delivering in spite of the DUP/SF attempts to thwart her, go ask people on the street, who ,outside their own party of choice is the most effective minister?

  • Mack


    1. The Free State hasn’t existed since 1937 – using that term today is offensive, and says more about the person using it than Ireland (Republic) today. (So let’s just say, unfortunately, when I see that I don’t rate your comments as particularly valuable).

    2. Fine Gael are in opposition not in government. By highlighting the issue, they are making a statement that they (as oppossed to Fianna Fail) are doing something about it.

    3. Arrests are an issue for An Garda Siochanna not for politicians.

    4. Cross-border co-operation is a political matter, and working together may help identifier the criminals undertaking these crimes (benefit fraud).

    4. You’ve made those comments on at least two other occasions – regardless of what the issue is, you seem to say “the Irish can’t govern”. Your intent may be to convey some deeper specific failing, but phrased that way it is little better than trolling.

    5. Now, in many ways I’m not a fan of this FF administration. I’ve been an incredibly harsh critic of their handling of the property bubble, of ramping up public spending to unsustainable levels, of their cosiness with developers and bankers (crony capitalism), and of their failure to ensure proper regulation in financial markets (due to an ideological believe in unregulated markets held by the regulator).

    But you can see the difference can’t you? The Irish manifestly can govern themselves. Despite their failings, successive Irish governments have taken the country from being one of the poorest Western nations to being one of the wealthiest in the world (and perhaps, due to the failings listed above – backwards somewhat in future). Ireland is a country that scores highly on all quality of life surveys, it has relatively low crime rates, a sophisticated democratic and legal system, sophisticated capital markets, many useful democratic civic insitutions etc. To say that governance is poor in Ireland is just pure nonsense.

    To accept this, does not mean you have to agree with the policy decisions undertaken by the Irish government – I disagree strongly with many of them.

    If you want to make a point that will be taken seriously, up your game, address a specific issue and refer to our state with a modicum of respect! Otherwise, I call bullshit!

  • Mack

    Should have read that Fine Gael and not only Fianna Fail are doing something about it (Mary Hanafin having raised the issue NSMC meeting).


    The process of signing on in the south is still relatively “easy going” compared to what it was in the north say, a decade ago. So perhaps that could be tightened up. Regular meetings, more indepth investigations into previous employment & living quarters, and ofcourse cross-border co-operation to identify fraudsters of whatever hue.

  • niall

    Find the use of free state as offensive as you wish. I use it but not to be offensive.

    There is a point behind it’s use and an important one in a north south discussion in that it challenges the partitionist status quo mindset and whether the actual status quo is ever effected or not it reminds us all of important origins for these discussions.

    You have misquoted me on the point of “the Irish can’t govern” when the point I make on a number of threads is that the govt is not fit for purpose on the mechanics of governance.

    There is a huge difference and distinction between the Irish can’t govern, and the state governance is terrible.

    If you can find me where i’ve ever said the Irish can’t govern i’ll readily apologise but to my recollection this is not the case?

    The attempts to cut government salaries are incredible really and when you consider the range of salaries i find it laughable. This was discussed on slugger away back in ’07 at the time of this;

    The mechanics of governance are boring but they are wrong in Ireland. Neither a prisoner of the left nor a captive of the right?

    Immoral politicians in the pockets of developers, by my reckoning the most indebted young citizens in the world with exploding public debt, terrible healthcare and a further generation now likely to be asked to pay for their education……..

    If not a failure of governance then what?

  • Mack

    Niall – Maybe you mean a failure of government, because your reply focused mostly on policies you opposed (which unfortunately FF were provided a mandate for).

    terrible healthcare

    Extreme choice of words & it’s not my experience and it has the feel of a lazy stereotype. It certainly could be a lot better and lot better organised. However, I’ve found the standard of care quite good. On league tables for prognosis on any ailment I’ve researched Ireland performs reasonably well. Not quite as good as the UK, but better than your statement would suggest, and signifanctly better than in most countries in the world including the USA. See infant mortality rates, or live expectancy rates for example.

    a further generation now likely to be asked to pay for their education

    Do you actually know what you are talking about? Students in Northern Ireland, and throughout most of the UK pay for their education – not so in Ireland (Republic). There are as yet no plans to introduce student fees, perhaps that will change.

    by my reckoning the most indebted young citizens in the world with exploding public debt

    Public debt is coming from a very low level. The government is taking action to redress the situation – as good governance would require.

    Wrt to indebted young citizens – while I sympathise and feel there should have been stronger regulation – no-one forced them to take on those jumbo mortgages. Even with strong regulation opportunities to take on excessive debt may have arisen – ultimate responsibility must lie with individual who took on the debt and not the state. There was a policy failure, in terms of regulation – not a failure of governance. I.e. There is a financial regulator who took an informed policy decision, just one you and I disagreed with. The people had ample opprotunity to reverse this situation at the polls (by voting for FG/Labour).

    The mechanics of governance are boring but they are wrong in Ireland

    I agree we have problem when the executive is selected from the legislature – it’s a problem replicated in many modern “democracies”. If you seriously believe that Ireland’s democratic institutions are significantly inferior to those of other western democracies – then I suggest you make an attempt to state why.

    Find the use of free state as offensive as you wish. I use it but not to be offensive.

    You won’t win many friends with that attitude, which is perhaps why you didn’t enjoy your time in the south. Anyhoo, Saorstát Éireann no longer exists and like I said it says more about the person using the term than our glorious nation today 😉