An integral part of living a satisfactory life in any country is having access to satisfactory social protection. Due to the hardships Ireland has been through in the past, its policies seem to strive to give the people of Ireland all of the things that their ancestors didn’t have.
For example, some of the current 50 – 60 year-old Irish citizens have not received a secondary level education, and therefore, during the last century, Ireland has provided its citizens with an opportunity to receive a better education.
Colleges of Further Education are now available, where this category of citizens may, for a year or two, bridge the gaps in their education and obtain a document as proof of their secondary education. But that's not all. Grown men (and we’ve met some over 60) can safely continue their education up to third-level. However, is this possible for people with a family?
Yes it is, and it is quite simple if you live in Ireland! The state pays these people a scholarship (similar to social benefits) and in addition, provides an opportunity to get a scholarship if their total household income is not high enough.
It’s no wonder that most of the foreigners who receive a permanent residential permit in Ireland do not miss out when presented with this opportunity. It’s true. This kind of education can be used not only by citizens, but also by those who have permanent residence in Ireland (Green Book, Stamp 4), except, of course, for higher education, where it is necessary to pay for your education while at the same time maintaining the grant given to you.
People with permanent residential permits, along with Irish citizens, have the right not only to learn, but also to receive social security benefits if they are unemployed. In Ireland, the main benefits are paid by two organizations. These are the Health Board and Social Welfare.
The first organization works with people who, for whatever reason, do not have the opportunity to work (for example, if they have physical disabilities) or do not have the ability to fully pay for their housing.
The second organization, works with people who have the ability and the right to work. This organisation is primarily in charge of controlling the unemployed and unemployment benefits.
The amount of unemployment benefits depends on the family’s total income. If, for example, the unemployed person has no family, the amount paid will be around €180 for one person per week. During times of economic prosperity in Ireland, the payments were higher.
In addition, if the total income of a working family is below a certain size (e.g., €606 per week, if you have two children) they can qualify for a special cash allowance.
Naturally, child benefits are paid at a rate of €140 per month for each child. Remarkably, when the Irish state finds some ‘loose change’ it does its best it spend it on children. For example, I remember a time when families with children up to 6 years of age received €1,000 per year in addition to their child benefits.
Another very important aspect of life in any country is to help citizens gain their own homes. We are not talking about families who are able to take credit for the purchase of a house, but rather those that don’t have such an opportunity.
So, the Irish state pays grants to low-income families. This grant allows them to rent decent (according to existing standards) housing. If a person reaches retirement age, and has not bought a house, the State provides such housing to these people in the form of retirement homes.
This housing is given to single seniors. Married couples are provided with social housing, usually temporary. That is, as long as the family needs it. This is approximately the way housing was given in Soviet times.
Of course the Irish have become accustomed to such things, receiving social welfare from the state is quite commonplace here, but for visitors to Ireland from poor countries - it is a real shock. However, it's a pleasant shock, and it would be great if all of the states on this planet presented the same "shock" to its citizens.
It is particularly pleasant that during the difficult economic situation in this country, the Irish government still seeks to maintain a decent standard of living for people born in the country, as well as those who have travelled here seeking a new life.