Welfare Fraud, 1847


A ledger, discovered in Co Waterford, has come to light which contains the “Relief List” of the local destitute in 1847. The poignant document contains the names, addresses, ages and other personal details of people applying for daily food rations during the Famine. Claimants were categorised as being either “Helpless Poor” or “Able-Bodied Poor”.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton could have written the instructions designed “to deter dishonest persons who are in employment or earning a livelihood from registering themselves as destitute and from applying for relief”.

The Victorian pen pushers   insisted that starving claimants – who were dying in droves – “must apply in person daily” or else “send a medical certificate of illness”.



Welfare Claimants: Deserving And Undeserving Poor (Michael Parsons, Irish Times – scroll down)