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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 25 Apr 1951

Vol. 125 No. 10

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Methods of Proving Unemployment.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will reconsider the methods of proving unemployment by unemployed persons in rural districts with a view to eliminating the unnecessary hardships incurred in twice and thrice-weekly attendances at Gardaí barracks and labour exchanges.

Applicants for unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit who reside within two miles from a local office of this Department are normally required to attend at the office and sign the unemployed register daily. Those residing over two, but not over four, miles are required to attend on alternate days only. Those residing over four, but not over six, miles attend once a week only. Those who reside more than six miles from the nearest local office are not required to attend, but are dealt with by post. This latter class are, however, required to go once a week to the nearest Garda station to have their forms certified that they were unemployed during that week. These arrangements have been in operation for a considerable time and have proved satisfactory generally.

If the Depnty will give me the namss and addresses of any persons who, in his opinion, are suffering hardship in proving unemployment under the present regulations, I shall have their cases specially examined without delay.

Would the Minister consider, say, having the form certified by a peace commissioner and thus avoid the necessity for applicants to go once or twice weekly to the Garda barracks or labour exchange?

The Deputy will appreciate that there is a need to keep some kind of check over applicants for unemployment assistance benefit. It is a benefit which is paid without any contribution being made by the applicant. It is necessary, therefore, that there should be reasonable vigilance in the payment of benefit of that kind. On previous occasions various experiments were devised whereby an applicant for benefit would have his form certified by some other person as proof of the fact that he was unemployed, but a subsequent examination of the results of a scheme of that kind showed that it was being abused, not only by the applicants but in some cases even the certifying people were utilising it for a purpose for which it was never intended. Consequently, that device had to be abandoned. I do not think the Deputy's new suggestion offers a solution any more satisfactory than those already attempted, and the existing regulations are not, in my view, very onerous on applicants for unemployment assistance benefit.