Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has been accused of massively overstating the amounts saved by the State in anti-fraud measures.
Last week, to much fanfare, Mr Varadkar launched a major anti-fraud campaign calling on members of the public to report those they suspect of engaging in fraud.
At that stage, it was claimed that over €500m was saved through a range of anti-fraud and control measures in the Department of Social Protection.
However, Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Fein TD for Dublin Mid-West, said the actual amount recouped relating to fraud was far lower, just €41m.
He said that, after examining figures given to him from Mr Varadkar’s department, it appeared the total amount of over-payments to welfare recipients was also much lower than the €500m figure quoted by the minister.
He added that it turns out that the figures quoted include estimates of what would have been saved over 52 weeks for some welfare types and 136 weeks in others, rather than what was actually saved.
“These numbers are a joke and a blatant attempt to gain exposure ahead of a leadership race rather than a genuine attempt to tackle fraud,” Mr O’Broin said.
In response to the Mr O’Broin’s criticisms, Mr Varadkar told the Irish Examiner: “Sinn Féin’s opposition to the anti-fraud campaign is unsurprising.
"It’s central to that party’s strategy to convince their political base that they should get everything for free, and that it should all be paid for by someone else through general taxation.
“We all know what that means. General taxation is the far-left’s code for higher taxes on the middle class.
"These are your tax euros that Sinn Féin would happily allow to be squandered on someone else’s waste and fraud, rather than those in genuine need.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved