Dáil Éireann - Volume 286 - 26 November, 1975

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Unemployment Assistance Applicant.

12. Mr. Lalor asked the Minister for Social Welfare why a person (name supplied) has been refused unemployment assistance since 12th February, 1975 despite his appeal.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Cluskey): The person concerned had his qualification certificate, possession of which is a necessary requirement for entitlement to unemployment assistance, revoked by decision of a deciding officer with effect from 12th February, 1975. The deciding officer held that he had not furnished full particulars of his means and consequently had failed to show that his means did not exceed the statutory limit for entitlement to assistance. He appealed against this decision and in connection with his appeal, he was afforded further opportunities on a number of occasions to furnish the required information. He [173] did not do so however and by decision of an appeals officer given on 21st October, 1975 the deciding officer's decision was upheld. The applicant has been notified of the appeals officer's decision.

Mr. Lalor: Does the Parliamentary Secretary not accept that here we are dealing with an unemployed man who has seven children under 16 years who are dependent on him? This unemployed man has no other source of income. An older son of the applicant took conacre and the conacre and the stock on the land is being attributed to the applicant by officials of the Department. This is completely incorrect and perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would get this message across to his officials or the deciding officer or appeals officer who may be dealing with this matter. I realise the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us that there is no appeal against a decision by a deciding officer.

Mr. Cluskey: As the Deputy has indicated in the last part of his question, the Minister has no jurisdiction over a deciding officer or an appeals officer. The facts that are available to me are that this man refused to disclose facts or to co-operate in trying to establish a full account of his means. I am sure the Deputy will agree that, in the circumstances, it would not be possible for an appeals officer or a deciding officer to make a decision in his favour. If the necessary information and co-operation were forthcoming it might be possible that this man would qualify. I do not know.

Mr. Lalor: I assume the applicant in this case conveyed to the pension officer what he told me, namely, that he had no property or income. The situation is that the social welfare officer, or whoever is responsible, decided that he had property. What more can an applicant do other than to state the facts? In this case the Department do not believe him.

Mr. Cluskey: My information is that he would not give the facts——

[174] Mr. Lalor: He said he had no property.

Mr. Cluskey: I am sure the Deputy will appreciate I do not know all the circumstances of any particular case. The facts available to me are that the man would not furnish information and that he refused to co-operate with the deciding officer. The information available to me is that he was given a number of opportunities to do so but he still refused.

Mr. Lalor: Is the Parliamentary Secretary saying that if this man can find some way of confirming that he has not any conacre, property or stock on other people's land that he will arrange to have the matter reopened?

Mr. Cluskey: If there is any new evidence or facts available that would justify re-opening the case and if the Deputy is in possession of such evidence that was not at the disposal of the appeals officer at the time, I will be only too happy to have the case re-opened.