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  • 1700 returning Irish affected by habitual residency: Times

    Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

    Nearly 1,700 Irish citizens have been refused benefits under the habitual residency requirement introduced in Ireland in 2004. That year, benefits were restricted to those who had been habitually resident in the country for two years. The move was to combat so-called ‘benefits tourism’, and emigrant groups had been assured that returning emigrants would not be affected.

    The Irish Times reports that the restrictions have affected  1,684 returning emigrants and other Irish citizens who had not been living in Ireland on a regular basis.

    Joe O’Brien of Crosscare Migrant Project says the restricutions are often applied inconsistently and serve as a barrier to those thinking of returning home.¬† Mr O’Brien said,

    returning emigrants were advised not to completely cut links with the country they were returning from.

    This is because some returning emigrants end up leaving Ireland again within a relatively short period of time.

    “This goes directly against what is required of the habitual residency condition. Claimants must demonstrate that they severed links with the US, for example, through a terminated tenancy or closed bank account,” he said.

    New guidelines will be produced by the Department of Social and Family Affairs to ensure consistency.

    The matter was also discussed in the Oireachtas.

    Sheila Gleeson of the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centres in the US has pointed out that an area of concern is that Irish immigrants who return to Ireland to care for a sick relative will be denied a carer’s allowance if they cannot show they have no intention of leaving Ireland again.

    Any returning Irish person who has a problem getting benefits should contact Crosscare Migrant Project.

    Read the Oireachtas proceedings.