Refugee wants back-dated child benefit

 Barrister Ciaran Lawlor, counsel for 77-year-old cattle exporter Hubert Maxwell, told the Circuit Civil Court on Wednesday that his client was abandoning any claim of financial loss and should therefore not have to disclose financial documents.
A woman who spent more than six years in direct provision with her husband before they were granted subsidiary protection here has challenged the refusal to backdate child benefit payments for their eight year old Irish born son.

The case, brought by the woman and child, is regarded as a test case raising significant issues under Irish and EU law concerning the rights of children and the child benefit entitlements of people who are granted subsidiary protection.

No regard seems to have been paid to the interests of this child in the various decisions on child benefit, argued Michael Lynn SC, instructed by the Free Legal Advice Centre, for the applicants.

In a sworn statement, the woman said she and her husband have professional qualifications and their living conditions while in direct provision from 2006 to 2012, along with not being permitted to work, were “distressing and damaging” to both of them.

In opposing the case, the State said the couple and child got total weekly payments of €47.80 in direct provision and had “all their needs met”. It also argued that legal actions by the couple contributed to delays processing their protection applications.

The core issues in the case are whether the woman is entitled to child benefit for her son from (1) his date of birth; (2) date of first application for child benefit or (3) the date subsidiary protection was granted.

Opening the case before Mr Justice Michael White, Mr Lynn said the delay of more than six years processing the couple’s protection applications was inordinate and inexcusable.

Ireland is the only country in the EU with such “appalling delays” which result from Ireland’s two tier system, unique in the EU, under which separate applications have to be made for refugee status and subsidiary protection, he said. New laws providing for a one tier system have yet to come into effect, he added.

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