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Give carers the help they desperately need

I WRITE with reference to your excellent coverage of the hardship being endured by returning Irish immigrants applying for social welfare (July 29), many of whom are falling foul of the habitual residence condition” (HRC).

The Social Welfare Appeals Office published its annual report for 2009 on the 10 of June last. The Director and Chief Appeals Officer states that “2009 was an exceptionally difficult year. 25,963 appeals were registered in 2009 which was 46% higher than in 2008”.

The average waiting time for dealing with appeals was 24 weeks, and 48% of appeals were decided in favour of the appellant. The report does not reveal the grounds on which appealed claims were originally refused, but our experience would suggest that the routine misapplication of the HRC by frontline staff would explain the dramatic increase in the number of appeals last year. Shouldn’t the Department of Social Protection provide some training to its frontline staff, and give the beleaguered appeals office — not to mention the 13,000 people a year who are incorrectly refused their entitlements — a break?

Claire McCarthy

Policy & Campaigning Officer

Nasc, The Irish Immigrant Support Centre

35 Mary Street, Cork


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