Wednesday 22 November 2017

Welfare inspector 'terrified' after bullet sent in post

Greg Harkin

GARDA detectives are trawling through a list of suspected benefit fraudsters after a welfare inspector was sent a bullet in the post.

The round of ammunition was accompanied by a note which had the terrifying message: "The next one won't be sent in the post."

A female member of staff with the Department of Social Protection has been moved from her role in Buncrana, Co Donegal, after the threat.

The bullet and death threat were addressed to her, but posted to her father's home in Lifford, Co Donegal.

The civil servant, in her late 20s, was terrified by the incident and moved to another position in the county.

Her father was also said to be 'deeply traumatised' by the incident.

The sinister threat comes after a crackdown on welfare fraud in the border counties, with welfare Inspectors working closely with their counterparts in the North to catch 'dole tourists'. This is where people claim benefits on both sides of the Border.

"We get threats; that's part of the job. But this is a whole new escalation and it is being taken very seriously," said one source in the Department of Social Protection in Co Donegal.

"We don't know at this stage if this is coming from dissident terrorists or someone with a grudge who has access to weapons. We understand gardai are looking at all the possibilities."

The benefits crackdown in the border counties saved more than €6m in the first three months of the year, according to the department.

Welfare inspectors now regularly join gardai and Revenue officials at vehicle checkpoints to question non-residents who may be claiming social welfare in both jurisdictions.

Asked about the bullet and death threat incident, a Garda spokesman said: "Gardai at Lifford are investigating a threat made to a female on Wednesday. We have nothing further to add to this." The family of the threatened woman has refused to comment.

Irish Independent

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