Woman challenges Government demand to repay money

Mary O’Brien launches High Court bid to quash Department of Social Protection order

A woman has launched a High Court challenge against a demand by  the Minister for Social Protection that she repay money. File Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A woman has launched a High Court challenge against a demand by the Minister for Social Protection that she repay money. File Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

A mother of two has launched a High Court challenge against what she claims is an unlawful demand by the Minister for Social Protection for the repayment of money that was allegedly overpaid to her.

The action has been brought by Mary O’Brien, who in 2014 received a demand from the Department of Social Protection for the repayment of €21,635 she allegedly had been overpaid by the department between 2012 and 2014.

She disputed this claim, and successfully appealed the decision in the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Then a second demand was issued, alleging that she still owed the department €8,978 in overpayments for the same period.

Ms O’Brien disputes the department claims and has launched a High Court action against the Minister for Social Protection.

Ms O’Brien, of Lissadell Drive, Drimnagh, Dublin 12, is seeking orders quashing the Minister’s decision.

She is also seeking an order directing the Minister to comply with the decisions of the Social Welfare Appeals Office on April 30th, 2015.

The nature of the alleged overpayment was that Ms O’Brien received one-parent family payments at the same time as receiving payments on a community employment scheme.

‘Sincere’

The social welfare appeals officer who heard the case found Ms O’Brien to be “sincere,” and that her explanation in relation to the various issues was “both credible and acceptable”.

Ms O’Brien’s lawyers told the High Court that the Minister was currently deducting €15 per week from her payments, despite the fact she has again lodged an appeal.

The court heard she cannot afford to pay all her bills as they fall due and the demand for repayment has caused her serious anxiety and stress.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Ms Justice Carmel Stewart. The judge adjourned the matter to a date in October.