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20 gardai to join Social Welfare in fraud probe

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Joan Burton

Joan Burton

Joan Burton

Joan Burton

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Joan Burton

SOME 20 gardai are being seconded to Joan Burton's (inset) Department of Social Protection as part of government's plans to beef up the ongoing clampdown on welfare fraud.

The officers are set to be transferred to the department's Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and will provide support to 91 welfare officials over a 12-month period.

The pilot scheme, which is the first of its kind, secured the necessary resources from the Department of Public Expenditure in September.

Consulted

The newly-appointed Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald were consulted over the decision.

Minister for State at the Department of Social Protection, Kevin Humphreys, said that scheme will act as a "strong deterrent" to those engaged in welfare fraud.

"This is a good example of the type of reforms we have been championing, to ensure that public money is spent correctly, and that Departments and agencies work together in the interests of citizens," Mr Humphreys told the Herald.

Those who are seconded to the department will work with inspectors in compiling evidence of welfare fraud.

The officers seconded to the department will operate in various urban centres across the country, including Dublin, Dundalk, Letterkenny, Monaghan, Longford, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Navan and Sligo.

They are due to remain on secondment for a period of 12 months, however, it's understood that ministers are considering extending the scheme in the future.

Some 16,359 reports of suspected welfare fraud were lodged with the department's control division between January and October this year.

noconnor@herald.ie


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