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Migrant workers facing barefaced discrimination from Government Department

11 August, 2006

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Worker's Rights Arthur Morgan TD today expressed concern at a report released by the Social Welfare Appeals Office which stated that migrant workers from EU member states were being denied benefits on the grounds that they are not habitually resident in this state.

Deputy Morgan said, "It is a worrying development for migrant workers to see that there are major inconsistencies in decision-making when it comes to the Department of Social Welfare and their basis for deciding whether or not to grant or deny welfare benefits to migrant workers.

"Migrant workers should not have to run the risk of poverty in this state due to the inadequacies of a decision making process in the Department of Social Welfare. Immigrants and migrant workers are not a drain on scarce public resources. They can and do make a net contribution to the public purse. However, Ireland needs a consistent and positive immigration policy that will help those that start a new life in this country in the event that they get into difficulty.

"Sinn Fein has consistently said that the Habitual Residency Condition would lead to these sorts of problems. Migrant workers are a group vulnerable to exploitation from unruly employers and they should not have to be subjected to any injustice as a result of this at the hands of the State. Migrant workers deserve the same rights and entitlements equivalent to those of Irish workers including the same social benefits.

"The Habitual Residence Condition was introduced by this Government to specifically deny migrant workers access to social assistance including unemployment assistance, disability benefit, child benefit, one parent family payment and carer's allowance. It is barefaced discrimination to make migrant workers pay for services through their taxes and then not allow them to use them if they need to.

"Sinn Fein believes that current legislation should be amended to extend to migrant workers the same tax and social benefits as Irish nationals and a statutory right to family reunification, including an entitlement of the migrant spouse to work." ENDS

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