Over 3,000 Irish citizens who had returned home, having lived abroad, have been denied the state unemployment benefit because they failed to meet the residency requirements.
Rita Delaney had been living in Boston for 17 years. Originally from Pullough, County Offaly, Rita returned to Ireland in September when she lost her job at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Currently based in Dublin she spoke to the Irish Independent about her situation. Rita has been actively seeking employment in Dublin, to no avail, and was shocked by the response of the Department of Social Protection when she inquired about receiving state benefits.
“One person there told me my best bet would be just to get on a plane back to the US," she said.
The department cited “habitual residency” as their reason for refusing her benefits. The would give not explanation for that. Her brother and other relatives still live in Ireland. She is now receiving aid from a Catholic social care agency, Crosscare. She plans to appeal the departments decision.
Crosscare said that these 3,000 returned citizens were failing to meet the “habitual residency” requirement. This requirement was initially introduced to curb “welfare tourism” from other EU states.
The Irish Government’s Committee on Social Protection has been told that the situation is now getting so bad that some of these Irish citizens have resorted to living on the streets.
Joe O’Brien, from Crosscare, said that it is those Irish who emigrated in the 1960s and 1970s who are being effected as well as those who have only been gone for 18 months.
The numbers being rejected for welfare entitlements have doubled in the past two years. Between 2008 and 2009 1,723 people were rejected. Since 2004 when the measure was introduced a total of 3,261 have been turned down according to Crosscare’s figures.
Crosscare also reported that this year the figures have increased five-fold.