herald

Monday 5 December 2016

'Getting social welfare was inhumane', says Minister Kevin Humphreys who used to be on dole

Kevin Humphreys
Kevin Humphreys

A Dublin-based junior minister has revealed how he used to claim social welfare benefit, describing the system as "inhumane".

Junior Minister for the Department of Social Protection, Kevin Humphreys, said he claimed social welfare in the last two recessions that hit the country.

He said that the old system of speaking to social welfare officers through "cage-like fencing" was like "being herded through a cattle mart".

"It dehumanised you. In the 80s I began signing on in the Werrell Street office first, but then I moved to Clondalkin and we had to sign on at the garda station in the village there," Mr Humphreys, who has special responsibility for Employment, Community and Social Support, said.

"You'd stand with your head against the wall because you didn't necessarily want your neighbours knowing that you were unemployed.

"But all that inhumane treatment has gone out of the system now with the arrival of Intreo centres," he added.

Mr Humphreys was speaking at the opening of a new Intreo centre on Cork Street.

Intreo services offer a holistic approach for bringing people back to work, where users of the system make appointments with an Intreo officer who will discuss with them the best way to re-join the work force and provide advice and education to set them on the path back to employment.

The Cork Street office is the 97th branch to open in the country and is an amalgamation of a number of social welfare and community welfare offices in Dublin 2, 4 and 8.

It will give jobseekers living in these areas the ability to access income and employment supports in one place.

"This is great for people in the area, especially because it could help people on the live register gain work or up-skill for jobs," said local Labour councillor Eric Byrne.

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