Departure From The Norm


This afternoon.

Did the state act unlawfully when departing passengers at Dublin Airport were approached and questioned by social welfare inspectors and gardai…

Via The Irish Times:

Under 2012 legislation, Social Welfare inspectors can question people at ports and airports, but only when they have “reasonable grounds” to believe there is a contravention of the Act.

However, according to multiple reports on social media and elsewhere this week, checking and questioning of people at airports has been widespread.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) wrote to the Department of Social Protection in recent days asking it on what basis their inspectors had stopped and questioned people at airports, including asking them for personal information and personal public service numbers (PPSNs).


….The watchdog also said it is following up on queries made by individuals about whether the DEASP sourced information from passengers from other sources that allowed targeting of individuals for payment cancellation without any interaction with an inspector at a port or airport.

Data watchdog: ‘Serious doubts’ over whether social welfare inspectors acted lawfully at airports (Irish Times)

Yesterday: Reasonable Question


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67 thoughts on “Departure From The Norm

  1. Hector Rameriz

    This isn’t new, wasn’t there Gardai checkpoints back during the last bank crash, manned by Gardai and SW, inspectors asking for PPS numbers checking of people were claiming and working…

    1. Anne

      Yeah, I’ve heard of truck drivers being stopped on the roads, to see if they are claiming a social welfare payment, while also working.

      Is this not different though? This is people who are travelling abroad? Nothing to do with whether they are working or not.. There wouldn’t be a ‘reasonable’ suspicion of them doing anything wrong really.

      1. Rob_G

        Is this not different though? This is people who are travelling abroad?”

        In what way?

      2. Hector Rameriz

        It’s not different, they set up check points (under guise of Gardai powers) to blanket request information. No ‘reasonable suspicion’

          1. Hector Rameriz

            Of course it was wrong then too, but it just looks like it’s affecting a different cohort of people this time…

          2. Matt Pilates

            Not claiming Job Seekers when you’re entitled to it because you were unaware of it? Isn’t that fraud by the state, keeping other people’s tax revenue? Govts seem happy not to tell people of their entitlements when it makes their figures look bad. Yet shovelling out money to two-bit startups makes them look good, despite the fact most of these ludicrous ventures will go nowhere. Just look at the confusion over the current issue – who knows what?

          3. Cian

            I didn’t say travel was banned.

            But DFA advise against traveling abroad – it’s not that long since we were advised not to travel more that 2km from home.

            Is it unreasonable to ask people that are traveling during a pandemic to explain why?

          4. Anne

            “Is it unreasonable to ask people that are traveling during a pandemic to explain why?”

            Well Lyin-air are advertising a load of destinations for holidays this summer..
            And the problem with asking people questions was the info was being passed on to DSP.

  2. Anne

    How did those on jobseekers show they were resident in the country, prior to the pandemic? Do they have to sign on or something or physically collect their payment from a post office every week?

    Was that stopped due to the pandemic and just paid into people’s accounts? Was the PUP payment paid into accounts, without the requirement to go to a post office?

    Surely some sort of technology could have been put in place that people can show they are resident in the country, without this waste of resources at airports? And it would avoid discriminating against people who may have needed to visit sick relatives or needed to travel abroad briefly for other essential reasons.

    Could people’s social welfare card not be scanned somewhere, with some bio recognition tech used, like a finger print? I think that’s fair enough, if you needed to present to the post office with your ID before the pandemic and the post office lady would look at your ID, look at you and see that you are the same person and see on their systems that you are entitled to the payment.

    If 350 euro is being paid out to people who lost their jobs due to the shut down of the country, I think it’s fair enough that you should be resident in the country and not gone off somewhere else.

    Why would it be so difficult to arrange something else than a face to face interaction at the post office, instead of this indiscriminate quizzing of people at the airports? It’s just farcical really.
    Surely we have the technology in this day and age to avoid this? If you were on a payment prior to the pandemic, you could travel surely to relatives for a few days without the need to inform anyone. The 2 week break is another matter, if you were going to miss going into the post office for that period..

    It’s like we’re stuck in the 1950s here. No one should be interrogated at airports in relation to social protection payments.

    1. Rob_G

      “Surely some sort of technology could have been put in place that people can show they are resident in the country, without this waste of resources at airports?”

      It would be some trick to roll out this technology within a weeks of the pandemic kicking off. Also, people (including you, if I’m not mistaken) were losing their poop altogether at the notion of people being asked to present a card with their picture on it in order to access state services; imagine the stink that would be kicked up if people had to scan their face multiple times and provide access to their device’s location at all times in order to receive a SW payment?

      1. Mary (Never) Wong

        sounds like a good idea if within the law
        What part of these operations were unlawful did you miss?

          1. Mary (Never) Wong

            Who is the statutory authority with regard the lawful use of personal data in this country Rob? Did you read the bit where it said:

            Data Protection Commissioner says checking all passengers at gates is casting the net wider than the law allows


      2. Anne

        I said nothing about scanning their faces multiple times and providing access to their location at all times.

        As the country went into lockdown, surely some finger print technology, or eye scan could have been implemented. That’s on my phone now to unlock it. That’s not the same as having a national ID card.
        Granted, that would take a while to roll out, but this is just a mess now, the way it was handled.

        1. Rob_G

          How would the dept of SW know that the ‘ur’ fingerprint/retina scan submitted was the correct one, given how they don’t have this information on file currently? I don’t think you have really considered the complexity of implementing the system you are proposing.

    2. Cian

      So many points. I’ll address a few.
      1. There is a pandemic – the PUP payment is/was designed to be done without face-to-face interaction. You could apply on-line and get paid into the bank. There was minimal checks done; AFAIK they checked your PPN with Revenue to see if you had been paying income tax (i.e. you were working and lost your job), but otherwise paid everyone that filled in valid information.
      2. If you were on Jobseekers you can get one two-week break per year and not lose your payment. You are obliged to inform the DSW before you travel.
      3. We live in a country where there is no legal obligation to carry ID, or register your home address any time you move. The DSW doen’t know where you live. Doesn’t know if you are resident. Unless they ckecj people levaing the ports.

      1. Mary (Never) Wong

        Why don’t you attack me again for actually being in the airport? That was so hot last time

          1. Rob_G

            That was under one of his many other user names.

            @wong – No-one attacked you; some merely assumed that you yourself were travelling, as you had given such a vivid first-person account (and then got all in huff when people enquired as to how you were so well-informed as to current operations in Dublin Airport).

          2. Mary (Never) Wong

            Huff? Nonsense

            Emphatically remember people were more concerned with why I was in the airport than my opinion about how social distancing etc was being managed there in the teeth of a pandemic brought and initially spread here by south side rugger types.

            Almost lace curtain twitch I’d say.
            Only one username . Happy to help. Here all day

          3. Cian

            Ah, you are posting under a different name. I didn’t attack you.
            I merely asked a question (twice) – “Were you travelling from the airport?”

            Which, by the way, you never actually answered.

          4. Mary (Never) Wong

            Haha you guys are almost funny.
            From now on I name you Lescian and Roberta.
            See it’s fun to play dress up and have different colors.
            But you guys know that already. Sort of “men” who go all out for Halloween I’d say, padded bras, flimsy negligee, nylons, the works. Hint – the world doesn’t care about this any more. It’s ok you can get into character at other times of the year too!

            Look at your squinting and squirming there with your big boy questions. Your moms would be proud.

            It is not a different name /[*BS admin] asked me to [*stop using multiple usernames and limit myself to a single one]. Happy to clear that up too -thanks big guy.

            Hey Rob I was there with you,
            We were lifting pensions off foreigners, remember?


          5. Cian

            It’s not a different name? Really?

            It was “Tom Wong” it is now “Mary (Never) Wong”

            Can you spot the difference?

          6. Mary (Never) Wong

            Ah now sidhe sure lookit if you can’t beat them join them!
            Move over there and let me park my Chelsea tractor in your handicapped spot.

          7. Mary (Never) Wong

            Hi les/Cian now you’re able to Google aren’t you?
            In fact on your CV the other day you actually listed that as one of your ‘skills’.

            You remember what happened yesterday ( I hope)?
            The day before?
            Yet here you are playing the gomb again.

            You wrote (and I trust you can go and google it if you think I misquoted you)
            “tomorrow I’ll be sober and you’ll still be a troll”

            That was a few mere days ago fella.

            (name calling removed)

          8. Mary (Never) Wong

            re – name-calling – thanks broadsheet. Happy to help. Here all day.

            [BS SEZ: we’re trying to be fair to you and other users of the site M(N)W. Bullying and harassment is not acceptable.]

      2. Anne

        “There is a pandemic ”

        No plop..

        I said the same thing, as all the points you addressed. Albeit, I put my statements as rhetorical questions. Nuance Cian..

        Re point 3, you do need to be resident in the state to receive a social welfare payment. I never said you need to carry ID.
        Before the pandemic, you needed to collect your payment in person for jobseekers at least, ergo there’s a reasonably good chance you are resident if you had to collect it in person, once a week.
        Don’t tell me again, we had a pandemic.

        Checking the ports is not viable to ensure people are resident in the country, for numerous reasons. And the reason, why we’re at where we’re at, with all cases of stopped payments needing to be reviewed.

        1. Cian

          I’m sorry – I misread your post and thought you wanted the fingerprints/ID done in person.
          Rob has replied about retina scan/fingerprint .

          1. Anne

            Well yeah, in person at some sort of kiosk, whereby you don’t have to interact with a human being, being the virus spreaders that we are and all …a scan of your print showing you’re in the country.

          2. Cian

            I dunno Anne. It depends on how you view welfare and welfare fraud.

            Option A: make all recipients sign-on in person once a month (be it face-to-face or via kiosk)
            Option B: Check everyone leaving & entering the country
            Option C: do nothing

            Option A is (arguably) mistrusting *everyone* on welfare and treating them all with suspicion.
            Option B is (arguably) trusting the majority, but mistrusting the few that are travelling during a pandemic (accepting that some people have good reasons to travel; but others don’t)
            Option C is (arguably) trusting everyone and pretending that everyone is honest.

          3. Anne

            Or collect in person at the post office. I’m sure that’s what was occuring prior to the pandemic.

            I don’t think it’s about trust really. If the criteria is to be in the country, that can be surely administered someway, even in a pandemic, without checking who’s coming and going at the ports – well not for DSP purposes at least.

          4. Cian

            yup – I believe Jobseekers was collected in PO; you had to be physically here.

            But COVID changes things. The gov decided not to force people to go into the PO (this saved an additional 600,000 people not traipsing through ~1,100 post offices each week).

            With all these things there isn’t a simple answer. You can
            Force people to go to the post office
            ✓ we know you’re in the country
            ✗ you risk getting COVID and death

            pay directly into bank/po account
            ✓ you don’t risk getting COVID and death (from this) anyway
            ✗ we don’t know if you’re in the country and need to check the ports

          5. Anne

            “pay directly into bank/po account
            ✓ you don’t risk getting COVID and death (from this) anyway
            ✗ we don’t know if you’re in the country and need to check the ports”

            Data watchdog: ‘Serious doubts’ over whether social welfare inspectors acted lawfully at airports (Irish Times)

        2. Hector Rameriz

          The ‘present yourself to receive payment’ was a long time ago, back in 80’s/90’s for a good while you had to sign on once a month. The money (would be deposited into your bank/post office) account. It stopped back around the crash as some did abuse the system by flying out of country and flying in once a month to sign. Well that was the reason for the change. Luckily I’m not availing of SW now so don’t know the current situation.

          1. Anne

            The current situation is directly into your bank account it seems, prior to the pandemic, I think it was collection at the Post Office for jobseekers

            There seems to be an element of shaming people with all this. I’ve seen people say online “get a job, if you want to go on a holiday”. Like, there’s a slew of available jobs and like they haven’t sacrificed enough for the country, being made to stay home, and they should forego their money with the likes of Ryanair.

            It’s very telling who the priorities lie with, in targeting working people who find themselves out of work, rather than airlines, and the wealthy.

          2. Mary (Never) Wong

            It’s been like that for a few years now Anne.
            The yachts and the have-yachts.
            They get an awful line up of the usual talking heads on Poo-Talk and other organs of the state, and round them up to deliver balls of poo poo at ten paces.
            It’s incredible the access the likes of that fool from Ryanair got a few weeks back there when the pandemic restrictions were being lifted. And no-one even questions it.
            I blame the priests. We’re so beat down as a nation, we really are.

          3. Anne

            Yeah, a lot of poopoo divide and conquer going on too.
            The working poor against the jobless.

    3. JEH

      Just playing devil’s advocate here…Imagine you’re a citizen of some other European country, but have lived, worked, and paid taxes into the Irish system for years. You’re currently furloughed or redundant, skint, and instead of using a huge chunk of your PUP to cover your exorbitant rent in Dublin you decide to go back to your parent’s or a friend’s house until the prospect of finding work in Ireland improves. As a result of having lived and worked in another European country, you may not be entitled to any of the benefits the country of your nationality is giving out.

      1. Rob_G

        You would still be entitled to JSB for a number of months if you had paid your stamps and went to find work in another (EU) country, AFAIK.

        1. Anne

          I don’t think you’d be entitled to that even, if you lived abroad.

          Jokseeker is a redundant term in a pandemic btw.

          1. Rob_G

            – You would, for up to 13 weeks upon leaving the country

            – could well be, yes. ‘Twas not I that named it.

          2. Anne

            I think it used to be called ‘unemployment’ benefit/allowance.

            Hard to be seeking jobs when there aren’t any at particular times.

          3. Rob_G

            For any other information, please consult, my fingers are getting tired.

          4. Anne

            Shag off would you.
            I’m not asking you anything… according to another post, citizen’s information can’t keep up with the latest changes on policy, that the gov throw in willy nilly after Leo of Varad makes a balls of things on the radio.

          5. Janet, dreams of big guns

            you are going to be accused of being hysterical and over the top soon Anne,
            I’d rather call it giving a poo poo and passionate, fair play

          6. Rob_G

            I guess you could call it that; I call it “asking Rob* the same question over and over again in a slightly different way hoping for a different answer”

            *who doesn’t actually know anything about social welfare beyond what is available on google

          7. Anne

            “I call it “asking Rob*”

            Eh, no one said, hey Rob, answer us this, you expert on everything..
            That’s in your own head.

          8. Rob_G

            Oh I see; I guess it was all the questions you posted beneath my posts that confused me.

    4. SOQ

      @ Anne

      Do they have to sign on or something or physically collect their payment from a post office every week?


      Was that stopped due to the pandemic and just paid into people’s accounts?


      Was the PUP payment paid into accounts, without the requirement to go to a post office?


      Fingerprints are part of what is called bio-metrics and are covered under GDPR. There are legal implications of storing such and no way such a system could have been set up in such a time frame.

      1. Anne

        Re the yeses, yes, I thought so…

        I think a system of checking people at airports isn’t really the way to go though, is it..

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