Homeless man challenges Minister's refusal to pay him welfare allowance

A homeless man has brought a High Court challenge against the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton's refusal to pay him supplementary welfare allowance.

The action has been brought by Stefan Stama, a Romanian national who is currently staying in a Dublin City Centre Hostel for the homeless, has been living and working in Ireland for more than a decade.

He had been in receipt of social welfare payments since 2010.

However last August-September he secured four weeks work from an employment agency.

After that work finished up he sought supplementary welfare allowance, and jobseeker's allowance

However his applications were refused by the Minister on the grounds he was not an European Economic Area worker and not habitually resident.

Today, lawyers for Mr Stama told the High Court that the Minister's refusal was legally flawed and have brought proceedings aimed at having the decision reversed.

Derek Shortall Bl for Mr Stama said as his client had worked for the employment agency he had obtained under European Law the status of worker.

The fact he had worked for three weeks full time and two weeks part time for the agency entitled Mr Stama to supplementary welfare allowance for a period of no less than six months, counsel said.

Counsel said that as a result of the refusal his client has no source of income and resides in a hostel for the homeless. He has been forced to rely on the charity of friends to meet his most basic needs.

His client had been in Ireland since 1998 and had worked in the construction sector and as a security guard.

He had been a PAYE worker until 2009 and was fully tax compliant. During this time he did not have a work permit.

In his action against the Minister Mr Stama is seeking orders quashing decision taken last October and in December refusing to pay him supplementary welfare allowance payments, and that he be provided with the payments.

He is also seeking a declaration from the court that he should be considered as a worker under EU law, he is entitled to supplementary welfare allowance and is entitled to be treated the same as any other worker.

He is further seeking declarations including that the Minister erred in law by determining that Mr Stama is not an European Economic Area worker.

Mr Justice Michael Peart granted Mr Stama leave, on an ex-parte basis, to bring the action.

The Judge made the matter returnable to a date in early March.

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