‘There’ll Be Additional Penalties For People Convicted Of Welfare Fraud’



Minister for Social Protection and Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar launching his Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All campaign last month

This morning.

Fine Gael TD and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar spoke to Cathal MacCoille on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

During the interview they briefly discussed the Social Welfare Bill and his plans to publish the names of people convicted of social welfare fraud.

It follows the recent launch of his Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All campaign, in which he calls on people to notify the authorities of people they believe are committing welfare fraud.

From the interview this morning…

Cathal MacCoille: “The Social Welfare Bill, it’s attracted a fair amount of attention already because of this proposal to publish the names and addresses of those convicted of welfare fraud. The reason you decided to do that? How many people will be affected?”

Leo Varadkar: “Any given year, it’s about 150 to 200. It’s adopting a somewhat similar approach to that of the Revenue Commissioners, although not going quite as far as they go. They publish settlements, we’ll only publish it if somebody is being convicted in a court of law.”

MacCoille: “Will you publish the details?”

Varadkar: “Obviously, the name and the address and the amount will be published. And also, in addition to that, there’ll be additional penalties for people convicted of welfare fraud. At the moment, sometimes, the penalties are very light. All you have to do is pay back the money the stole which is very unusual. In most fraud cases, you have to pay a penalty as well as pay back the money that was taken. And it will allow us do that.”

Listen back in full here

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

99 thoughts on “‘There’ll Be Additional Penalties For People Convicted Of Welfare Fraud’

  1. ollie

    John Bowe and Willie McAteer were convicted of defrauding the public of €7.2 billion. Bowe got 2 years in jail, McAteer got 3.5. Both pleaded not guilty.

    Varadkar says in the article above “In most fraud cases, you have to pay a penalty as well as pay back the money that was taken.”
    Neither McAteer or Bowe had to pay back a cent. In fact, the vast majority of people convicted of fraud don’t have to pay back the full amount of the fraud.
    That’s Enda Kenny, Noirin O’Sullivan and now Leo Vradkar, all liars.

    1. Barry the Hatchet


      As per bloody usual, a politician spouts utter rubbish while the “journalist” interviewing him just twiddles his thumbs and doesn’t bother to correct him. It’s just so bleak.

    2. know man is an island

      They didn’t a) steal public money and b) spend it on themselves – slight difference

      1. ollie

        Context, €7,200,000,000 fraud. 2 tears in jail less remission of 6 months = 18 months.
        And you Cian think that this is “paying a penalty”

  2. Holden MaGroin

    I seem to have a bit of a right wing streak in me when I think about this issue. If people steal from welfare should they not have to pay it back? Naming them is like a disincentive to do it again. Is this not reasonable?

    Is the anger people feel about this the contradiction of the government going after the little man/little amounts of money vs. the bankers et al and huge amounts of money?

    1. Ultan

      Yes, and especially when we know that white collar crime is having a much larger affect on the state than a few nixers.

    2. mildred st. meadowlark

      In a word, yes.

      No one disputes that welfare fraud is wrong, and is theft, but when the government demonstrates time and again that it’s one rule for them and another for us, so to speak, then this feels like a personal attack on the people.

      It casts aspersions on the sincerity of those who do claim welfare, and do so legally and because of genuine need. It makes us suspicious of people who are on welfare.

      The bankers, and those who gambled with our money, who defrauded the people of Ireland, did not receive this kind of treatment. They were let off with unbelievable leniency, and it smacks of double standards.

    3. Barry the Hatchet

      In addition to what Ultan and Mildred have said, I would add that some of the bad reaction to this campaign is because it is a transparently populist attempt by FG to make it look as though they are doing something useful for the country. The fraud figures touted at the beginning of this campaign (€500m in 2016!) have been discussed at length here and are a bunch of twaddle (the real figure is €41m in 2016). And, of that real figure, the majority is due to error on the part of DSP, with a much smaller percentage due to fraud. So
      maybe it would be a better use of resources to focus on the totally preventable error by DSP and invest in better systems, better training and better oversight, instead of a tawdry ad campaign encouraging people to shop their neighbours, and some stupid proposal to publish the names of people whose names are already in the public domain? But “DSP invests in better oversight” wouldn’t be as headline (or vote) grabbing as “welfare cheats are scum!”.

    4. know man is an island

      They’re already named and shamed when their cases go to court anyway. Leo isn’t that cuddly likeable gay fella who is in politics any more but now a real player hence the kneejerk reactionary responses from usual gobspoos here

      1. pedeyw

        I think it’s two things:

        1: cost/benefit. I’m pretty sure the amount money being fraudulently claimed is dwarfed by both unclaimed benefits and the cost of this campaign.

        2: The general public perception that white collar fraudsters are getting away with far more damaging stuff.

        1. scottser

          also, in relation to your point 1: how much does this campaign cost n relation to the probably risible sums involved by the 200 people convicted yearly?

    5. Andrew

      It’s called ‘whataboutery’ Holden. A much used and tired ‘argument’; for want of a better word.

      1. Holden MaGroin

        As in “What about those other guys that are doing that thing over there? Don’t look over here at this much worse thing?”

  3. bisted

    …sauce for the goose…I’m sure there would be a lost of red faces among Leo’s colleagues alone if name and shame becomes the norm…bring it on…

  4. Rob_G

    I don’t get why a left-wing blog is on this particular hobby horse – surely the social welfare system is there for the the people who really need it? And if there is a perception that people are abusing the social welfare and getting away with it, it undermines people’s confidence in the system, and it would be easier for a right-wing politician to come along and slash social welfare rates if people think “sure, aren’t they all on the fiddle anyway?”

    1. LW

      You don’t think that artificially inflating the figures of welfare fraud, and making a now weekly announcement about crack downs on same, creates the perception that it’s a lot more widespread than it is?
      For me that’s the problem, I have no problem with fraudulent claims being prosecuted, money being recouped, and penalties applied where appropriate. This campaign seems to be making out that it’s much more widespread than it is though.

  5. Daisy Chainsaw

    I only wish he was so quick to sort out Maternity and FIS payments, but “people paid entitlements in a timely fashion due to section being fully staffed” doesn’t grab headlines for Future Dear Leader.

    1. know man is an island

      No but it’s a fair point all the same. I’m fully sure Coveney will bring that up in the leaders “debate”

  6. Sheik Yahbouti

    Are we not blessed to have such a champion of equality? Rich and poor will now be treated exactly alike! :-D No, really……….

    1. know man is an island

      You’ve never had it so good. Which Sheik persona are you by the way, the morose, depressive one or the happy oul fella hanging with the cool lefty kids one?

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        I happily hang out with the cool lefty kids, whilst being morose and depressed ;-)

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            Gwan outta dat: I was very perky.
            Oh, hang on.
            Maybe that explains it.

  7. phil

    I thought that any person convicted in a public court would have their name, address and crime on public court records. Records that court reporters can publish in their newspaper articles . The reason they dont publish, I suspect is, even the tabloids can be bothered chasing welfare cheats . It wouldnt sell papers.

    Who is this politician appealing to? I didnt need another reason to dislike FG, but Ill take this on board

  8. Kolmo

    Hey everyone!! Look at the skobes stealing social welfare!!! Ignore the criminality in the banking system, serious shadyness in the state security aparatus, overyly powerful vested interests (alcohol, gambling industries), construction and property policies explicitly contrary to the interests of the citizen, health industry profiteering, laughable car insurance profiteering in the absence of ANY government controls – are there no depths to the cynicisim of this shower – the inertia here is hard to understand..

      1. Anomanomanom

        You assume they have no money. The welfare cheats, although honestly not a huge financial problem for the state, are stealing its that simple. The system we use is completely outdated, I genuinely know have few pensioners who claim more than one state pension, because its so easy to do they will never be caught. And I really dont begrudge a pensioners the extra money, again it is stealing though. Really a moral issue.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            ‘Poor Joan. How dare those thugs insult an old lady………you miust report elderly peope living on €220 to the police if they try and expolit the system for extra money.’ The right wing hive mind.

          2. Anomanomanom

            Like I said moral issuse. It grates when lazy wasters who are capable of working but don’t who then claim stuff they shouldn’t. But is that irritation worth reporting pensioners.

          3. Rob_G

            Are you serious – if someone is claiming “more than one state pension”, they are defrauding the taxpayer of €11.5K per annum. If you saw an old person going into a warehouse and robbing €10K worth of electronics, would you be as complacent?

            @ Moyest – so old people who commit crimes are fine, but old people who are the victim of a crime should be vilified in comment sections? Righto

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            I’m saying that insisting elderly people who live on 200 quid a week should be reported to the police doesn’t tie in with a ‘that poor old lady’ attitude towards a politician who has helped gut the welfare state. As usual, your sympathies lie with the powerful because you imagine yourself to be above most people.

          5. Lord Snowflakee

            pretty obnoxious commentary here by Moyest who clearly inhabits some kind of distorted unethical bubble, conflating the wrongful arrest and false imprisonment of a public employee serving her duty, with the deliberate and conniving fraud of public money, then claiming that those with the moral clarity allowing them to be able to draw such distinctions are some kind of amorphous, non-sentient blob – despicable

          6. Rob_G

            Of course it does.

            thinking its not ok to trap people in their cars as they go about their daily business == knowing the difference between right and wrong

            thinking its not ok to steal == knowing the difference between right and wrong

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            Speaking against polticially motivated showtrials where powerful politicians have powerless poor people prosecuted; Knowing the difference between right and wrong.

            Knowing not to equate pensioners living in poverty trying to get extra money to live with profit orientated millionaires who don’t need any more money; knowing the difference between right and wrong.

  9. DubLoony

    We already name tax defaulters:

    We name people in courts when their cases come up.
    So would naming people be just consistent with what Revenue already do?

    I’m not thrilled by shaming people who are already under pressure.
    Most people claim because they need to, actual number of cheats is very low.
    Errors by DSP staff need to be looked at to tighten that up.

    The maternity benefit debacle is outrageous. Just when parents have additional expenses, their payments are delayed.

  10. ollie

    Here’s fraud to get started with Leo:
    Garda College, 50 bank accounts, millions stolen, including €417,000 from the Credit Union members.

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      ollie, Many thanks. In the great scheme of the “rob the nation” regime SW fraud is pretty small potatoes. Zappone’s travel expenses alone might cover two or three sw ‘fraudsters’!

  11. Sheik Yahbouti

    Sorry, Ollie, meant to also say that ordinary rank and file Gardai are in the same position as the rest of us. They are ripped off by their ‘betters’ whom they deem trustworthy. Gardai are people, same as the rest of us.

  12. anne

    That scumbag idiot Niall Boylan on Classic Poo 4fm was talking about this last night.. utter moron with bigger idiots who rang in.

    One woman was blind & couldn’t work for years but her case was legit, everyone else’s wasn’t.. because she saw people (not sure how since she’s blind) with suitcases going off on a holiday. You shouldn’t be going on any holidays, not even to Ballybunion if you’re on social welfare according to Niall & his cronies.

  13. anne

    I know of 2 cases of social welfare ‘fraud’

    1. Girl working cash in hand minding someone’s kids for about 10 quid an hour for 30 hours a week. That’s 300 euro plus her 188, plus a medical card i would presume. I think she gets on a cheap holiday or two to Spain as her mortgage is low.

    2. A couple, not married. Girl has lifelong illness. Won’t be able to work again. Boyfriend on about 600 a week. Rent is 1500 a month. She’s entitled to nothing, no medical card, no help with rent, no illness benefit, because of his earnings and because they’re a cohabitating couple.
    If they were room mates, she’d be entitled to help. As a couple his earnings of approximately 35k a year need to cover everything- You’re talking rent, health insurance…and health insurers wont take people on with a pre-existing condition. not being married he cant get her tax credits or any other benefits but is supposed to cover everything for her.

    You’re basically talking about letting people die -as is happening in this country with the state of the public health care system.

    These are the people Leo wants to target.

    Where’s the hotline number for dishing the dirt on vulture funds and Nama? Mick Wallace was the only one to set something up there.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “1. Girl working cash in hand minding someone’s kids for about 10 quid an hour for 30 hours a week. That’s 300 euro plus her 188, plus a medical card i would presume. I think she gets on a cheap holiday or two to Spain as her mortgage is low.”

      She is definitely just as bad as a millionaire defrauding us for millions more he doesn’t need.

      1. anne

        Earning under 500 a week. i don’t think so. You can’t live on 300 a week in this country.

        1. Rob_G

          She doesn’t ‘earn’ her money – she steals some of it from social welfare, and steals another part from the revenue commissioners (by not paying tax); the rest she does earn, I will concede.

          1. Rob_G

            ok – “she steals part of it from workers who pay their taxes through her defrauding of the revenue commissioners, and she steals the other part of it, also from workers who pay their taxes, through defrauding the social welfare”.

            I would love to be able to get a mortgage, and have enough money to go on holiday leftover, and all from working only 30 hours a week; but unluckily for me I was taught that it was wrong to steal, so instead I have to work full time and forego going on holiday to save up a deposit for a house, along with all the other honest chumps…

          2. anne

            that still doesn’t answer the question..how do revenue ‘earn’ the money they collect.

            what numpties like you don’t get it, they super wealthy being invited into this country by baldy noonan to buy up properties on the cheap and paying no tax on their income, don’t ‘earn’ anything.

            Money is a means to an end. Someone paying VAT through out the year on their goods is paying more tax than the super wealthy.

          3. anne

            that still doesn’t answer the question..how do revenue ‘earn’ the money they collect.

            what numpties like you don’t get it, is that the super wealthy being invited into this country by baldy Noonan to buy up properties on the cheap and paying no tax on their income, don’t ‘earn’ anything.

            Someone paying VAT through out the year on their goods is paying more tax than the super wealthy in some cases.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I was taught that it was wrong to steal,”

            Yeah you’re so much better than them. They’re Bad People. Honestly, are you actually older than 23?

          5. Rob_G

            “How do revenue earn money…”

            – through ordinary people paying their taxes. So, when your friend defrauds the revenue, she is actually not only stealing from them, but stealing from me and you. I’m not sure what the point is about super wealthy people; does the existence of super wealthy people make it ok for your friend to steal yours and my tax money?

            I don’t know where you are getting the idea that people who pay VAT contribute more in taxes than wealthy people; Ireland has a very progressive tax system – the top 5% of earners contribute 55% of the income tax take (and presumably also buy goods and pay VAT on them).

            And yes, I probably do consider myself better than someone who chooses to steal instead of working and paying their taxes – there you go.

          6. anne

            I wasn’t referring to PAYE workers as being super wealthy. I’ll find you the link later but there was a vulture fund who recently paid 1000 for a full year in taxes. You’d pay more in VAT.

            You still didn’t answer the question of how revenue’s money is earned. You explained how its recirculated back to them. Go away and have a think about it.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            So you *are* under 23 then. Life is complicated, little buddy. You’re bot better than someone just because they’ve done something illegal. Hopefully you’ll learn that when you get out intp the world.

          8. Rob_G

            I imagine, given your black-and-white view of the world, that I am probably older than you. I’ve lived in a number of places, but do you know, I always managed to pay my way in the world; funny, that…

          9. MoyestWithExcitement

            “given your black-and-white view of the world,”

            Translation; ‘I know you are but what am I?’. Yeah, you’re definitely just some privileged young lad.

      2. Rob_G

        Because murder is worse, should falsely imprisoning someone not be prosecuted?

        Oh wait, you don’t believe that should be prosecuted at all…

      1. anne

        if you’re cohabiting, your partners earnings are taken into account..and they can pick up the tab for everything, putting people into extreme poverty in the case of serious illnesses.

        1. rotide

          Surely flatmates and boyfriend/girlfriend are exactly the same in the eyes of the law?

          1. anne

            If you share a bed or an evening meal together, no you’re not the same as flatmates according to social welfare. That means you are supposed to financially support a partner with a long term illness in all respects. medical card, illness benefit, rent allowance -your responsibility. The state says you’re committing fraud if you’re cohabitating and one person is earning 35k a year regardless of rent you have to pay.

            These are the individuals leo wants to catch.

    2. rotide

      Im over 23 ajnd theres no way i can afford to pay a mortgage and take two holidays a year.

      Your friend is stealing from the system and not to put money in starving childrens mouths either.

      1. Harry Molloy

        +1 488 into the paw a week, not bad if you don’t mind being a dishonest person

        1. anne

          That 1 next to your plus makes it look like 1488 Harold.

          488 a week. Living the dream in modern day ireland all right isnt it. lol. Food and petrol you’re down to 320 a week. Maybe after your mortgage, car insurance, car tax, property tax, house insurance, esb, internet you might get out for an auld night out or an all inclusibe holiday in Spain that’ll set you back 3 or 4 hundred.

          Yer gas how ye begrudge people a any kind of decent standard of living.

          1. Harry Molloy

            Didn’t say living the dream, but it’s about the equivalent of earning 30k, which isn’t bad for 30 hours plus medical card and any other allowances for being “unemployed”

            but saying it’s fine is another example of cute hoor culture that permeates the country that you’re either for or against

    3. MoyestWithExcitement

      “health insurers wont take people on with a pre-existing condition.”

      Isn’t it mad* how that’s such a huge deal in America right now and nobody talks about it over here?

      *Not actually mad, more completely unsurprising

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