More than €12.8 million in children’s allowance payments were made from this country to kids living other EU countries last year.
Almost a third of that total went to Poland — paid to 1,567 families and covering 2,566 children — according to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection records.
The overall figure actually dropped by almost €800,000 last year to around €12.8 million from a total of just over €13.6 million in 2018.
Payments last year were made to families living in other EU countries to 4,281 “entitled persons” relating to 7,637 children, records released under FOI show.
While Poland made up the largest proportion of that total, it was closely followed by youngsters in Britan, where 1,018 families received 2,169 payments — or 28% of the total issued. Another 1,297 monthly payments of €140 were remitted to children in Romania, making up almost 17% of the total figure.
The figures drop dramatically thereafter with 400 child benefit payments made to families with children based in Lithuania, 214 in Croatia, 206 in Slovakia, and 166 in Spain. Payments were made to children based in almost every other EU state but there were just a handful of payments to Sweden and Luxembourg.
The €140 payment in Ireland is among the more generous in the European Union and its payment to children living in other EU states has been questioned in the past by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
Mr Varadkar told an EU Council meeting in 2017 that such payments should be tied to local rates to avoid “overcompensation” or in some rarer cases, people getting less than they might be entitled to.
Separately, the Department said that 35,874 applications for child benefit were made last year. Of those, 3,665 were made under “EU regulation” meaning they related to a youngster who was living in another country in the European Union.
From 32,119 applications made for Irish-resident children, 776 were rejected according to the Department. And of the 3,665 'EU Regulation' applications, 625 were rejected.
A Department spokesman said: “The main reasons for disallowing a claim relate to the qualification of the person making the claim and the issue of competency under EU regulations. The majority of customers who apply for Child Benefit from the Department do meet the qualifying criteria. In situations where an application is disallowed the qualified person, if known, will be contacted by the Department and given the opportunity to apply if they are not already in receipt of payment.”
The Department said that in cases decided under EU regulations, Ireland has to be liable to make the payment, and if this is not the case, the claim will be disallowed.
The spokesperson said: “Where Ireland is not primarily competent and the other member state is paying a Family Benefit in excess of the Irish rate, the Irish claim will be disallowed. Otherwise, a supplement may be payable to bring the total Family Benefit payment up to the Irish level.”
The Department said that child benefit is paid at the standard €140-a-month rate to all qualifying customers, irrespective of where they live.
Under EU regulations, citizens working in a member state have a right to apply for payment in the country in which they work: “Competence is determined by EU regulations and then domestic legislation is checked to ensure the applicant meets the criteria governing a qualifying person and qualifying child.”