Written answers

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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386. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will remove the habitual residency clause for social protection for Northern Ireland in view of the commitment to no hard border on the island of Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30115/19]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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Habitual residence is a condition that one must satisfy to be eligible for most means tested social welfare payments in Ireland.  It applies to all applicants for relevant payments, whether or not they are Irish citizens.   

The term ‘habitually resident’ means that a person has to have their ‘centre of interest’ in Ireland.  The term also conveys permanence - a person has been here for some time and intends to stay here for the foreseeable future.

A key element of the habitual residence provisions is the right to reside requirement which must be satisfied.  Irish citizens have a right to reside in Ireland.  EU citizens have a right to reside in Ireland (or other EU Member States) subject to the conditions set out in EU law.  In addition, UK nationals coming from the Common Travel Area have a right to reside in Ireland as provided for in the Aliens (Exemption) Order 1999 and this right will continue after the UK leaves the EU.

As part of the Common Travel Area commitments, the Government entered into a Convention on Social Security with the Government of the United Kingdom which was signed on 1 February 2019.  This Convention ensures that the current reciprocal arrangements that apply to the coordination of social security payments between the two jurisdictions will be maintained post-Brexit. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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