CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFIT.

Mr. WILLIAM O'BRIEN (for Domhnall O Muirgheasa)

To ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether his attention has been called to the fact that many road workers in Co. Clare have been refused benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Act, on the grounds that they are not normally in insurable employment; that the only reason why they have not been consistently employed on road work has been the military activities and the consequent objections to keeping the roads in the normal state of repair. Whether he has considered the typical case of Simon Halpin, of Clarecastle, whose 1921 and 1922 Unemployment Insurance cards show 45 contributions. That this man has been employed by the Clare Co. Council as a worker on the roads for ten years, yet the Court of Referees disallowed the claim on the ground that he had not ordinarily been employed in such work as would make him an insured person within the meaning of the Act?

MINISTER for INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (Mr. Joseph McGrath)

Under the Unemployment Insurance Acts applicants for uncovenanted benefit, that is to say, benefit not supported by the qualifying number of contributions, are required to show that they are normally employed in an insurable occupation. Many workers who obtain temporary or casual employment on the roads are normally engaged in agriculture or other non-insurable occupations, and it is usually on this ground that their applications have to be disallowed. It is necessary to refer to the local office for particulars of the case of Simon Halpin, and I will communicate with the Deputy as soon as the particulars are received.

Mr. JOHNSON (for Domhnall O Muirgheasa)

To ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he is aware of the hardship occasioned to insured workers under the Unemployment Insurance Scheme in County Clare by the fact that they are obliged to travel to Limerick City to make their appeal to the Court of Referees; that if they lose their case no expenses are allowed, and that consequently poor men are denied their rightful claims because of their unwillingness to travel to Limerick; and if he will make arrangements for the sitting of a Court of Referees in Ennis.

Mr. JOSEPH McGRATH

I will consider whether the expense involved in arranging for the sitting of a Special Court of Referees in Ennis would be justified by the circumstances. But in this connection it should be understood that every facility is given to an applicant for unemployment benefit by the Employment Exchange to establish his claim before it is disallowed, and that it is only in a very small percentage of cases that any reasonable ground can exist for a further appeal to the Court of Referees. Where such an appeal succeeds expenses are allowed.