Sunday 28 December 2014

SF bill would let welfare fraudsters 'off scot-free'

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

Published 19/01/2013 | 05:00

SINN Fein is accused of wanting to let social welfare fraudsters away "scot-free" by offering an amnesty for people who admit they have been overpaid in welfare allowances.

Sinn Fein social protection spokesman Aengus O Snodaigh tabled a Dail bill which would allow people to admit they had been overpaid by the welfare without being hit with penalties, prosecutions or repayments.

But Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said welfare fraudsters were giving "two fingers" to ordinary taxpayers and those who honestly claim payments like pension and the dole.

Mr O Snodaigh claimed his bill was intended to help those who had received too much "through no fault of their own . . . regularise their payment and have a line drawn in the sand over the past".

Ms Burton, however, rejected the bill, which she said had "serious flaws, not least the provision which would essentially allow those who defraud the State to escape scot-free".

"It is important to send out a message that the State is not a pushover for those who take badly needed social welfare payments away from other people. The former are giving two fingers to those in employment who pay PRSI and tax and to people who really need social welfare payments," said Ms Burton.

Irish Independent

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