A report into the dealings of migrants with the Department of Social Protection has found instances of racism, abusive behaviour, and points to a high number of successful appeals.
The report was compiled in collaboration between human rights organisations, including FLAC, Doras Luimní, Nasc and Crosscare.
Figures from the Department of Social Protection found that 55% of appeals were successful, meaning the applicants were refused a payment they were entitled to.
The 'Person or Number' report found:
• Rudeness, inappropriate behaviour, inappropriate or abusive language and instances of racism from those serving the public.
• Incorrect refusals of payments where "basic administrative procedures" had not been carried out.
• Particularly poor standards in the Community Welfare Service
• Interpreters not being provided
• "Omission of key pieces of information by officials"
Among the recommendations in the report are that staff wear name badges.
Vanya, from Bulgaria, said when she tried to make a complaint about her treatment, staff were unhelpful.
Following what she described as a "patronising comment" she said she was only allowed to make a complaint when she returned supported by an NGO staff member
"They wouldn't give any names, or names of the managers … just the first names."
The report also recommends the creation of a monitoring and evaluation unit in the department to improve standards in "front line" operations.
It also identified widespread racism as the most serious issue facing social protection.
"The racism findings are the most serious in this report," its authors wrote. "Minimising and downplaying the seriousness of the issue will not solve the problem. The issue needs to be talked about and named, recognised for what it is and directly addressed."
It recommends mandatory anti-racism training, and a specific plan to address the problem, including a dedicated reporting system for incidents.
— Additional reporting by Dave Molloy.