A CONNEMARA man got his mother to 'sign on' for him in Ireland while he was earning good money in the US, a court has heard.
Darren Grealish (31) was strongly criticised by a judge for his action yesterday.
The father of one, originally from Cellar, Rosmuc, Co Galway, who now lives in Dublin, admitted stealing €2,256, the property of the Department of Social Protection, between June and August 2011.
His mother, Anne Grealish (55), admitted two counts of making a false instrument by forging her son's signature on a Declaration of Unemployment form in July 2011.
The pair appeared at Derrynea District Court, Connemara, yesterday for finalisation of the case against them.
At an earlier hearing, Garda Brendan Kinneavy said that Grealish had gone to the US in June 2011 and while there continued to get jobseeker's allowance. This had been possible because his mother had forged his signature on three successive forms, thereby continuing payments into his account.
The court heard that Grealish had been heavily in debt.
In court yesterday, Grealish handed in the last €650 of the repayment of the money.
Solicitor Sean O'Carroll said that his client had accepted full responsibility for what had happened.
Judge Mary Fahy said: "He was making good money while this country was on its knees – and still is. There was no excuse for him."
The judge took his guilty plea into account and fined him €750.
Mr O'Carroll said that the events leading to the court case had not occurred at Mrs Grealish's instigation.
Applying the Probation Act, Judge Fahy noted: "Of course, she shouldn't have done it".