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Social welfare officer allegedly told immigrant to "go back home"

A report has found that some immigrants are facing racism from the Department of Social Protection.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IMMIGRANTS ARE FACING racism and rudeness from the Department of Social Protection.

That’s according to a new report which found that one immigrant was allegedly told to “go back home” while another was told “too many people from — are coming here to take benefits for free”.

The report, Person or Number? 2, was commissioned by a number of non-governmental organisations and it detailed 35 cases.

The director general of the Free Legal Advice Centre, Noeline Blackwell, said that about five of the cases were of racism but that most people found they didn’t have just one issue.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Blackwell said, “These are people who are not just coming in with anecdotal evidence, they’re being supported by the various organisations that are now helping them to get what it is they are entitled to.

This is not a question of somebody begging on the side of the street – this is a person with an entitlement.

Minister of State for Equality, New Communities and Culture Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin is launching the report. He told Morning Ireland that, “When you look at Department of Social Protection and the numbers they deal with and the problems they deal with…this is not the average experience of people who deal with the department.

For those 35 people it was their experience and it wasn’t good enough.

“When it does happen- the message has to go out for people to make complaints.”

Appeals and Interpreters 

The report found that there wasn’t consistent use of interpreters and that a lot more are needed. The Department currently uses about 500 interpreters.

Blackwell cited a Dublin NGO which has over 1,000 interpreters:

One NGO used twice as many interpreters as the whole network of the Department of Social Protection across the country.

It also found the department was taking approximately 20 weeks for welfare allowance payments to be processed, the report described this as “unacceptable”.

Blackwell added that “55% of appeals show a favorable result for the applicant”. She described this as a “terrible waste of time”.

If better decisions were made first time round it would be better for the applicants but also it would be better for the state.

This is the second report on issues immigrants face from the Department of Social Protection. The first was published in 2012.

Read: Here’s where Government saved almost €2 million last year>

 

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