Returning Irish emigrants from America and elsewhere are being refused vital social welfare payments, says Fine Gael spokesman on welfare, Michael Ring.

Figures obtained by Ring  show a large increase in the number of returning Irish emigrants being turned down for payments.

Many have returned home to take care of ill parents or siblings and are being denied any funds that are normally given said Ring.

The emigrants are falling foul of regulations called “habitual residency” designed to safeguard the system from abuse by foreign nationals moving to Ireland.

Ring stated that Irish people were being unfairly denied State support as a result of a “crude cost-saving measure."

“Irish people returning to live in Ireland on a permanent basis should have no difficulty in claiming State support. But the reality is very different with growing numbers of Irish people being refused essential State supports.

“Irish nationals, some of whom left as recently as 18 months ago, are feeling totally abandoned by the State because of what appears to be an increasingly strict interpretation of the habitual residence condition.

“The dramatic increase in refusals seen in recent years raises serious questions about the treatment of the thousands of Irish people who have been forced to leave the country in the last few years, but who may wish to return to home to their families in the near future,” he added.

In a statement, the Department of Social Protection said: “Irish nationals returning to live in Ireland on a permanent basis should not experience difficulty in demonstrating that they satisfy the requirements of the habitual residence condition," it added.

Recently  the chief executive of the Carers' Association, Enda Egan, spoke of concerns  about Irish people returning from abroad to care for elderly relatives being refused carer's allowance.