Judge slams carer who had got job seeker’s payment with €135,291 in bank

January 17, 2018

A Judge has slammed a carer who claimed €23,687 in job benefits but had more than €135,000 in her bank account.

Marian Sweeney came to the attention of the Department of Social Protection when she appeared on a DIRT tax list.

Inspector Mary Joe McGovern told Falcarragh District Court in Co Donegal that Ms Sweeney had declared in 2016 that she had less than €20,000 in her account.

However, an investigation showed that she had €135,291 at the time of making a job-seekers application for benefits.

She had gone on to receive a total of €23,687 in benefits.

Solicitor Patsy Gallagher said his client had been left the money by various parties but lived a very frugal life.

He said Ms Sweeney, of Gortahork, was a carer for her elderly father and cared little about money and was very embarrassed by the court case.

He described the matter as an oversight on Ms Sweeney’s behalf.

However, Judge Paul Kelly said there were many people who were being deprived of benefits because of the actions of people like Ms Sweeney.

He asked Mr Gallagher why his client did not simply declare the money in her account when she was filling in the application form for benefits.

“Why didn’t she write on the form? It’s not an oversight. She was asked and she replied that she hasn’t (more than €20,000 in her account).

“I always point out that there are genuine recipients in desperate need of this money. This is not a victimless crime. You see the victims here all the time, these people are in dire circumstances,” he said.

He asked Mr Gallagher if his client still had the money and he was told she had a large portion of it.

Judge Kelly ordered Ms Sweeney to pay €1,500 to the local branch of St Vincent de Paul and adjourned the case until February 21st.


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