“by far the worst area for benefit cheats”

Donegal Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh complained of “unusual patterns of dole claimants” in certain border towns back at the start of February. Yesterday the BBC reported the Irish Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mary Hanafin, Minister for Social and Family Affairs, identifying the main culprits

Ms Hanafin said the north-west is “by far the worst area for benefit cheats”. “The number of people claiming in Buncrana and Ballybofey are out of line with the rest of the county.” “We are very concerned with the number of people applying for welfare so close to the border.”

And the Irish Times provides the details of the border “crackdown”.

The crackdown was initiated by special investigators attached to the Department of Social and Family Affairs to combat what the Minister, Mary Hanafin, described as “welfare tourism”. Ms Hanafin’s department said social welfare payments in the Republic could be more then three times the equivalent payments in Northern Ireland. In just two days the special welfare investigators stopped and questioned the drivers of 53 cars and are taking follow-up action including prosecutions in 22 of these cases.

The social welfare investigators were joined at checkpoints by gardaí and Revenue personnel, who also questioned motorists and their passengers.

A Revenue spokesman said 12 cars were seized over two days with follow-up action being initiated in a further 24 cases, as well as action being taken for breaches of excise duty relating to the use of marked diesel oil.

A Garda spokesman said prosecutions would be initiated for infringements of the regulations relating to insurance and licence, tax and other elements of the Road Traffic Act.

More frequent checkpoints are planned in the coming weeks along the Border counties.

[It would be un-patriotic not to – Ed] Indeed.

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  • Suddenly understanding Unionism is becoming easier. 😉


    Remarks made by Fianna Fáil’s Mary Hanafin today and by Fine Gael’s Joe McHugh in the recent past that cross-border dole claimants should be targeted amounts to an attack on the least well-off, a spokesman for Republican Sinn Féin has said.

    Derry-based Director of Publicity, Richard Walsh, said that it was sad but unsurprising that the political establishment in Leinster House wished to criminalise those reliant on social welfare payments to survive.

    “Instead of criticising the English government for the pittance paid to those signing on the bru (Stg £60.50 per week for over-25s, paid fortnightly in arrears) by the DHSS in the Six Occupied Counties, the two major parties in the 26-Counties both see fit to criminalise their fellow countrymen and countrywomen who are attempting to survive the current economic storm.

    “The irony of this disgraceful stance appears to be lost on those styling themselves the ‘Republican Party’ and the ‘United Ireland Party’ respectively.

    “Whilst the failed bankers continue to pocket obsene bonuses, the most vulnerable in society are those who will feel the full force of the State,” he said.


  • wild turkey

    The alleged ‘welfare tourists’ are merely rational economic actors seeking to maximize income. If rational maximizing economic behaviour is further supplemented by a patriotic urge to ‘shop’ in the 26 counties, why complain?

    Which North/South body that could cut a deal along the lines of:-

    1. Grannying okay for RoI residents claiming school places or NHS care in the 6 counties,

    2. to be offset by expenditure incurred by,

    3. RoI accepting ‘welfare tourists’ from the six counties.

    The lack of win/win scenarios on this island is often bemoaned. This proposal has mileage…and professional PR advice to realise full marketing potential (see Bill Hicks for job description)

    The proposal would also be environmentally sound as buses rather cars could then be used. Demand might be such that in certain cross-border corridors a need for bespoke bus lane arises. In addition, these proposed initiatives are exemplars of the greening of cross border cooperation and, as such, may attract European funding.

    For example, morning school bus runs from, say Donegal to Derry, could do a return trip with the welfare tourists taking them to the Buncrana or Letterkenny dole offices. The tourists could then be returned,after a nutrious lunch, by bus to Derry in time to pick-up the school pupils and return them to Donegal.

    A nation once again. In deed rather than words.

    “Whilst the failed bankers continue to pocket obsene bonuses, the most vulnerable in society are those who will feel the full force of the State,”

    Implement this proposal and a joyous nation will shout (or sigh), “Our dime has come”*

    *TM on recent and future ministerial missions to the USA

  • picador


    How much is the CIRA paying it’s ‘full-time volunteers’ these days?

    The pension’s not what it was these days!

  • shore road resident

    I see Dick has fixed his earlier mis-spelling of “bru” as “brew”. Obviously coming in for a bit of stick for not knowing the origins of the word. Too posh a background, perhaps? That would stack up. [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • Gav


    Today the Government revealed that a significant number of Nordies are stealing from the Irish Exchequer. In figures that will surprise those without a single brain cell, the Department for Social Welfare said that unprecedented amounts of whining had been heard in border-area dole offices over recent months. Putting two and two together, the Ministry sent its crack team of investigators to the region and discovered that large mumbers of Nordies were signing on in the Republic. RSF and other groups responded by whining that it is “totally unacceptable” and “disgraceful” that their right to whinge and steal should be interfered with by the democratically-elected authorities of what they described as the “26 counties”.

    END statement

  • In response to my arch-critic, “Shore Road resident”, I was indeed aware of the origins of the word ‘bru’/’brew’. This does not alter the fact that it is usually spelt ‘brew’.

    Recognition of the usual spelling of the word does not suggest that I was not aware that the word is a bastardisation of the word beaureau, as I have been aware of that fact for many years.

    Perhaps if you do a Google search you will come to the same conclusion as me that the usual spelling is – despite the origins of the word – ‘brew’.

  • austin

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    RSF clearly want to spend their hard earned euros up north and help the UK out of recession. good on them I say 🙂

  • Driftwood

    RSF members would clearly be fans of ‘Special Brew’, rather than ‘Irn Bru’. Whatever, their members are probably adept at picking up benefits either side of the ‘border'(since they do not recognise it). Good to know that the RoI has plenty of money in their coffers to help out these poor huddled masses.

    access word here is ‘working’, the irony….

  • “Ms Hanafin’s department said social welfare payments in the Republic could be more then three times the equivalent payments in Northern Ireland.”

    If this story had come out a year ago, the reaction from Dublin would have been to send a cheque north for the difference so that welfare-dependent Norners wouldn’t be troubled for the price of petrol. After all, how much different would that be from paying for NI roads and subsidising an air route with one end in NI?