Woman who unlawfully drew €10,300 in children’s allowance also collected child benefit in UK

A 60-year-old Dublin woman unlawfully collected more than €10,000 in children’s allowance payments while living in the UK, a court was told today.

Joanne McDonagh (aged 60) from Killala Road, Cabra, was fined €700 after she pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court before Judge John Brennan.

She was prosecuted by the Department of Social Protection.

Outlining the facts of the case, prosecution solicitor Joseph Maguire said the woman had been getting the child benefit but began living in the UK from August 2009 until June 2012.

She flew back to Ireland every three months to collect her children’s allowance and stayed with family members. The cheques were lodged in a post office in Dublin.

She had also been claiming child benefit in the UK at the same time, the court was told.

Judge Brennan heard she unlawfully obtained €10,300 and has repaid €7,657. Some €25 a week is being deducted from her disability allowance and it will take another two years for her to repay the money.

Defence solicitor Joe Coonan told the court that the mother of two’s partner died and she had relied on the payments. Her children are no longer dependants, the judge was told.

The charges are under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act.

In the district court, the offence can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and a possible six-month sentence in addition to having to repay the social welfare authorities.

The court can only consider leaving defendants accused of dole fraud without a criminal record if all the money has been repaid.

Pleading for leniency Mr Coonan said that the woman has increased her repayments and had pleaded guilty at an early stage.

Judge Brennan said it was a serious matter and it took place over a substantial period.

However, he noted her difficult circumstances and he spared her a sentence. He imposed the fine which he stated has to be paid within eight months.


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