Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Open letter to the Social Protection department.

Dear Social Protection department.

You recently changed your name from Social Welfare to Social Protection. Protection of who or what I wonder? What the f*&^ or who are you protecting, if I may ask? Because you certainly are not protecting me and my children.

When we decided to move, I inquired left, right and centre about what I should do with you. To change the address, to change the Post Office I collect my payment from etc. So that everything would go smoothly. I was informed I had to come in 2 weeks beforehand to inform the Social 'Protection' office that I would be moving. I did that. I was then told I had to go in to the new Social Protection office I was going to be dependent from within 3 days. I did that. I was told that for that week, I would have to travel an hour over and an hour back to go and collect my payment or it would take 4 weeks for it to be reissued to the correct Post Office. I did that. To cut a long story short, I went into your Office every week since I moved apart from the 2 weeks I was on holidays (but I had informed you of that) because there was no payment at the Post Office. I was showing up every Wednesday as I was told to and there was nothing there. Do you have any idea how humiliating it is? To show up at a tiny country Post Office only to find out that there was nothing there for me? The postmistress was very nice to me but she couldn't help me much. I found your office's phone number and I tried to call all day. But nobody answers the phone. It must be for outgoing calls to friend and family only, I'd say. Anyway, it took 7 weeks for my file and my payment to be sorted out properly. I received 5 weeks payment at once. Thankfully, I am not completely reliant on you to live. Thankfully Mr Foodie works. Thankfully I am not completely reliant on you to put food on the table or to keep a roof over my head and my children's heads. Thankfully, my ex-employer was kind enough to pay me off a reasonable amount of money which I put in the bank and into which I can dip. Thankfully, because if I had been reliant on you and your 'generosity' (feel the irony?), my children wouldn't have a roof over their heads, they would have starved by now too. Do you realize what 5 weeks of payments represent? How much of a hole that makes in a family's budget? Or do you care at all? I started to feel a bit paranoid and thought that it was because I wasn't Irish.

I thought everything was sorted. How naive of me. I took a look at my bank account today and realized that my Child Benefit payment wasn't there. WTF? Once already, this has happened to me. A few years back. When I had to leave everything behind, I missed a letter from you. And you cut me off for 4 months. I was working at the time and once again, thank god, I wasn't completely reliant on that money, even though we didn't have much of it at the time. So I had learnt my lesson. Anytime I moved, as soon as I moved, or before I moved even, I dutifully informed you of my new address. Which I did this time again. I sent you an email 3 weeks before moving. 2 weeks later, I got an email back asking me to send a letter. I hadn't waited on the response and had sent the letter already.

And what happened? Well, you sent me a letter. You know the letter I'm talking about. The one I get every 3 months or so because I'm not Irish. Yes, that one. The one I have to fill in with the same stupid information every 3 months. My only sin being that I am non national, a foreigner, an alien which makes me automatically a suspect of fraudulent behaviour. You have to keep your eye on me, of course you do, because I might have moved back to my own country and I might be taking your government's money fraudulently, when I'm not entitled to it anymore. It doesn't matter that I go and humiliate myself every week and collect a payment from the Post Office. Of course, the 2 systems are probably not linked. So you don't know that I have to do that. So, despite me informing you twice that I was moving, you still sent a letter to my old address and when I didn't return it, well, you assumed I'd left the country and you cut me off, again. If I were Irish, I wouldn't even get the letter, so I would still be paid whether I am here or not, wherever I move. If I 'forgot' to inform you, you wouldn't even realize. You would still be paying me religiously every month. But not me. Oh no. Not me, the fraudster alien sponger. Sure, why don't you consider doing what the mayor of Limerick suggested last year? Why don't you deport me back to my own country because I've been unemployed for more than 3 months? Who cares that my children are Irish citizens? That my fiance is Irish? Who cares if I have paid taxes in this country for more than 10 years? You didn't mind taking my hard earned money then, did you? But now? Now, it's a different matter. Tdiscrimination. There is a law that says that you can't be discriminated against on various grounds. Yet, it doesn't apply to you. You are allowed to discriminate against foreign nationals, EU or not. I wonder what the EU would think of your methods? I wonder if they would endorse such discrimination. I am sick and tired of being suspected of fraud on the basis of my nationality. There are to be other ways for you to keep an eye on me without me even knowing it. Maybe if you didn't do it so openly, I wouldn't feel so hard done by.

Or maybe you should change your name again to Social Protection Department for the Irish only. That way, we, non nationals, foreigners, aliens, whatever you would like to call us, would be forewarned that we will need to bend backwards to satisfy you. Because obviously, being proactive and following your rules is not enough for us, non Irish people.

Non nationally yours,
A very annoyed Foodie Mummy.

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