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Welfare recipients should not be punished for Departments mistake - Seán Crowe

5 January, 2005


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social and Community Affairs, Seán Crowe TD today said, "welfare recipients should not be punished for a mistake made by the Department of Social and Family Affairs", after learning that 47,000 welfare recipients will not receive payments this week.

Speaking in Dublin today he said:

"Due to a mistake last week whereby welfare recipients were paid twice the normal rate, some 47,000 welfare recipients will not receive payment this week.

"Many of these recipients genuinely believed that this extra money was a Christmas bonus and have already spent it. This time of year is traditionally a time of financial difficulty for many people, especially those in receipt of welfare payments and it is unfair to ask them to pay back the whole sum of the money in one payment when this payment reflects the sum of their total income for the week. It is unrealistic for Minister Brennan to expect these people to cope with absolutely no income in one of the toughest weeks of the year.

"It is understandable that the Department want to rectify this mistake but a fairer method of repayment should be implemented. To do this the Department must first of all make full payments to all recipients this week and then begin a process of consultation with representatives of these people such as Age Action Ireland, The Carers Association and others to work out a fair method of repayment that will have the least possible impact on their lives.

"The blame for this mistake clearly lies at the door of the Department and the bottom line is that welfare recipients should not be punished for a mistake made by the Department of Social and Family Affairs." ENDS

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