Criminals don't deserve social welfare
Published 08/08/2012 | 09:08
INSENSITIVE comments made by Sligo-born judge Mary Devins suggesting that the Social Welfare system equates to a charity for some Polish people in Ireland might have hit a nerve this week but raised a question about those who commit crimes, Irish or otherwise, being funded by the State.
Nationality aside, I don't believe that anyone who commits offences of a certain level should be afforded any leniency when it comes to benefits. Every single week people across Ireland appear before courts having wreaked havoc on their own communities. Penalties for burglaries, assaults, drug offences and other serious crimes are often delayed for lengthy periods because the convicted party needs time to save up the fine from their dole payments.
Not for one minute do I begrudge such payments to decent people who are struggling to keep their heads above water during this scourge of a recession but those who commit crimes, which have a negative impact on the country they live in, don't deserve to be supported by it.
There is no use saying and simply accepting that recessions lead to rocketing crime levels because regardless of a person's own circumstances it is never acceptable to resort to breaking into homes and businesses, for example. If everyone who was strapped for cash started robbing others or dealing drugs to make a few bob where would we be?
Instead we hear how some parents are so intent on putting their children's education first that they have to scrimp on food shopping in order to cover all the back-toschool costs without any extra help and yet they do so honorably when I'm sure at times they feel nothing but despair.
I'm not suggesting that someone who didn't pay their television licence or who is caught speeding should see their benefits stopped but if in some more serious cases it was a threat as part of the penalty for more serious crimes it would send a clear message.
Many will argue that it is the state's duty to care for all citizens and while of course food and shelter are basic human rights, what thought is given to the rights of innocent victims of crime if the perpetrators are supported by the public purse?
It is an insult to the victims and makes it easier for those inclined to get involved in criminal activity not to work even if there were jobs available.