A mother-of-seven has pleaded guilty to unlawfully claiming almost €20,000 in lone parent benefits while she was married.
Denise McCarthy, 43, with an address at Griffith Heights, Finglas East, Dublin 11 is being prosecuted by the Department of Social Protection.
Solicitor Joseph Maguire for the Department told Judge John O'Neill at the Dublin District Court that the fraud was €18,610 but the woman has paid back €7,620. "It relates to one parent family payments", the prosecuting solicitor said. He said McCarthy claimed the benefits in 2012 while she was married and living with her husband.
Ms McCarthy confirmed that she understood the charge and that she was admitting the offence. Her current repayments are €15 a week which she explained is being taken out of her carer's allowance. "I've seven kids, I'm finding it very hard," she told the court.
She also said that she has complied with social welfare authorities.
Judge O'Neill noted the current repayment schedule means it will take 14 years to pay back the €10,990 left owed to the Department of Social Protection.
He also noted that she has already substantially reduced the amount and he agreed to adjourn sentencing until November. He warned her he hoped there will be significant reduction by then. "It will be to your benefit if there is," the Judge John O'Neill added.
The offence can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and or a six-month sentence in addition to being made pay back the amount of benefits he wrongfully claimed.
The social welfare authorities have a mechanism to recover money owed to them, the court also heard.