Tuesday 13 November 2018

Easy to raise race to quell debate on welfare tourists

Rising unemployment is taking its toll on the economy, so it's time for a frank discussion, writes Cathal MacCarthy

Cathal MacCarthy

SPARE a thought this morning for Councillor Kevin Kiely, 813th Mayor of Limerick (813! Eat your heart out, Tallaght). Last Monday, Mayor Kiely, a man who shoots it straight even by local standards, unburdened himself of some thoughts on the interaction of our social welfare system and the recent influx of EU nationals. His worship was tact itself on the subject of people from other EU member states arriving here to claim social welfare benefits. In the event of such people being unemployed three months after their arrival they should be deported, declared our man who then had the temerity to start rolling out the figures in support of his argument.

"In some European countries, such as Poland, the rate of social welfare is €80 or €90 a fortnight, but in Ireland they get €220 per week and it is going to have to stop."

Thanks be to goodness for the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) who were there to head off the argument before it got even more factual. The mayor's comments, they declared loftily, were "more likely to fuel anti-immigrant sentiments by creating a resentment against people who have a right to live here, than to contribute to the debate". Hmmm. What debate would that be? I've never heard any debate. I have heard a lot of people say we should have a debate. But not just now. The ICI was later joined by a new face peering over the rim of the add-hot- water-and-stir indignation cuppasoup.

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