“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.