EU national who travelled home challenges State's decision to stop PUP payments

In May, she travelled to Romania to help care for her elderly father, whose care centre had closed.
EU national who travelled home challenges State's decision to stop PUP payments

Prior to boarding her flight at Dublin Airport, she claims she was stopped by a social welfare inspector, who asked to see her identification and her PPS number. File photo: Brian Lawless/PA

An EU national residing in Ireland has brought a High Court challenge over the State withdrawing her Pandemic Unemployment Payment after she returned home to deal with a family emergency.

The action against the Minister for Social Protection and the State has been taken by Maria Lupu, a Romanian citizen working in Dublin as a property inspector and who has lived here for more than 20 years.

Last March she applied for and was deemed eligible for PUP.

The following May she travelled to Romania to help care for her elderly father, whose care centre had closed.

Prior to boarding her flight at Dublin Airport, she claims she was stopped by a social welfare inspector, who asked to see her identification and her PPS number.

She claims that her payment was stopped on May 26 last, a day after she flew to Romania. She returned to Ireland in late August.

She then claims to have contacted a Social Welfare Inspector about her PUP, seeking to have that payment restored.

She claims that when she applied for the PUP the form stated that she must be residing in Ireland, and there was no mention about taking trips outside of the country.

Ms Lupu's claims

She claims that in September she was told that by the Inspector and that following a review her PUP had been withdrawn.

She appealed that decision, but the appeal was not granted because no formal written decision had been made on which an appeal could be based.

She claims the decision not to reinstate her PUP was unlawful, unfair, illogical and in breach of her rights as an EU citizen.

She further claims that the decision was unlawful because under the 2005 Social Welfare Consolidation Act her claim to have the payment reinstated was decided upon by a Social Welfare Inspector.

While a Social Welfare inspector has the power to investigate such claims, an inspector does not have the power to make a decision on such a claim, which can only be ruled on by a designated Deciding Officer, it is claimed.

The court also heard that Ms Lupu of Redwood, Hollystown, Dublin 15, returned to work in late September 2020.

Ms Lupu's action

In her judicial review action against the Minister for Social Protection, Ireland and the Attorney General, Ms Lupu seeks an order quashing the Minister's decision to cease her PUP payments.

She also seeks declarations from the court including that the Minister's Social Welfare Officer erred in law and acted outside their jurisdiction when they determined her claim.

She further seeks a declaration that the Minister erred in law and breached Ms Lupu's rights to fair procedures in ceasing her PUP.

Derek Shortall SC, for Ms Lupu, said that similar legal challenges have been brought by other Irish-resident EU citizens after their PUP payments were cut off after they left the jurisdiction.

Counsel said those proceedings had been settled. Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Charles Meenan.

It will come back before the court in March.

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