HANAFIN AND WELFARE FRAUD

 

Madam, - You are right that the Government should be "humane" in addressing payment fraud in social welfare (Editorial: "Policing welfare fraud", July 22nd).

The Government should also be legally consistent in terms of our membership of the European Union.

Registered unemployed are not obliged to seek work "in this country" as suggested by Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin, in media communications.

Since 1972, when Ireland joined the then European Economic Community, unemployed workers residing in one country have the right to seek work in another member-state as part of the fundamental principle of the free movement of persons.

Irish, Polish, German and Slovenian are perfectly entitled to reside in Ireland while seeking work on building sites in London, including travelling to London, registering with employment agencies, taking language tests and attending for interviews.

Articles 48 and 49 (b) of the EEC Treaty actually prohibit placing administrative and procedural barriers in the way of such workers who wish to exercise this freedom to seek work abroad.

An example of such a barrier could be the cancellation of a registered unemployed claimant's benefit or allowance because they travelled temporarily outside Ireland looking for work or to attend for interview in another member state. - Yours, etc,

PAULINE CONROY, Whitethorn Road, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14.