DUP MP Gregory Campbell has marvelled at the ingenuity of people living along the border area after an economist described the phenomenon of Derry dole tourists spending lots of time residing with their Donegal relatives in order to avail of higher rates of social welfare payments in the South.
Paul Mac Flynn, a senior economist at the Nevin Economic Research Institute, recently raised the matter while giving evidence on ‘The land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland’ to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster.
Mr. Mac Flynn said that for many years far more favourable rates of social benefits in the South compared with those in the North had encouraged cross-border welfare tourism.
“For a while there was quite a large difference between the unemployment benefit between the UK and Republic of Ireland,” he said.
“What you found was a lot of people who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland suddenly ended up spending a lot of time in aunties’ houses in Donegal and then claiming benefits.
“That is a hard one to police in terms of that, but in terms of further rights to be exercised by Irish passport‑holders in Northern Ireland, that needs to be thought about and scoped out,” he added.
Mr. Campbell quipped: “Never underestimate the ingenuity of people that live close to a border.”