Latest: INOU disappointed Government plans to name and shame welfare cheats

Update 6.50pm: A group representing the unemployed say they are disappointed the Government is going ahead with plans to name and shame welfare cheats.

The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) say many cases of fraud are actually caused by small mistakes, and are not deliberate.

Those who defraud the state of more than €5,000 will be named on a new online register.

Brid O'Brien from the INOU says they have a number of issues with the plan.

"One of the concerns we would have is around the whole data protection issues that such a development could lead to," she said.

"The proposal is that after a certain period of time people will be taken down off the website, but just given the era that we live in and the way modern technology works, can the Department guarantee that any reference to people who have been so named will be totally expunged or is this something that could follow a person?"

Update 3.45pm: Fianna Fáil have said the new list of social welfare defrauders will be meaningless.

The Government considered plans at yesterday's cabinet meeting to name and shame anyone who defrauds the state for more than €5,000.

It has been dubbed a hate campaign by Sinn Féin - something the Taoiseach denies.

Fianna Fáil's Social Protection spokesperson Willie O'Dea says the measure will not make a difference.

"The whole thing is meaningless, quite frankly, because if somebody is prosecuted for social welfare fraud they're brought before the courts," he said.

"The courts have the power to impose any penalty they wish, including imprisonment, and they're forced to pay the money back. This will appear on the papers at the time the court case takes place so everybody is going to know that a certain person defrauded the Department of Social Protection and was prosecuted and convicted.

"What the idea of putting their name on a seperate list a couple of months later is for, I do not know, quite frankly."

Earlier: Sinn Féin said the Government's plans to name and shame welfare fraudsters is a hate campaign.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has somewhat rowed back on the plans, signaling only people who have defrauded the state for more than €5,000 will be added to a public register.

New Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty brought the amended measures to cabinet yesterday, and it has the support of Fianna Fáil.

Sinn Féin TD John Brady called it a "grubby" deal between the two biggest parties.

"I think the whole campaign has been widely discredited," he said.

"The figures that had been put out on the outset have been proven to be false, totally inaccurate and indeed, fraudulent some would actually say."


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