Minister for Employment Regina Doherty
On Today with Sean O’Rourke, presented by Cormac Ó hEadhra.
Fine Gael TD and Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty spoke about the story on the front page in today’s Irish Times in which it’s reported that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will not name and shame “welfare fraudsters”.
And that, under a compromise deal with Fianna Fáil, only people found guilty of defrauding the State of welfare payments in excess of €5,000 will be named in a public register.
From Ms Doherty’s interview with Cormac Ó hEadhra…
Regina Doherty: “Let me be very clear, lest you think that we’re going soft on anybody that’s defrauding the State of money and taking money out of other peoples’ pockets is acceptable. There’s no defrauding of the State that’s acceptable and we will pursue people in the courts that has not changed one jot.
“What has changed here is that a piece of legislation that we were hoping to introduce has been reached a compromise so the piece of legislation can be passed. And the Fianna Fail party, on foot of the proposal to me, to make an amendment so that instead of starting at zero, we will start at six months of somebody defrauding the State even though that person, at five and a half months, three and a half months, whatever length of time that has been taken, the department has saw fit to take a criminal case against somebody, the police has saw fit to take a criminal case against somebody, that will still pursue. The only thing that changed…”
Cormac Ó hEadhra: “Where did that €5,000 figure come from? Is it based on any research whatsoever? Or is it something that yourself and Fianna Fail cooked up?”
Doherty: “Well, first of all, I take offence at the fact that. Politicians don’t cook things up, Cormac, when we’re putting legislation together for the good of the people….
Doherty: “Can I be very clear? Customer fraud is defined in statute from €1 to whatever it happens to be, some of the recent cases you can see of €60,000, €160,000, €7,000. There is nobody who is defrauding the State in any shape or form or size of money that is acceptable. Because what it does, Cormac, is it takes the capacity of the department and me as the minister remove money from being able to distribute that money to vulnerable people who actually need it. So there is no level of acceptable fraud.”
The Meath Chronicle reported last night:
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