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Irish taxpayers are being defrauded of up to IRpounds 500m a year by fraudulent dole claims, it has emerged. An anti-fraud drive is being organised after regional investigations. In Galway claims fell by 14 per cent after notice was given that payments would have to be collected from a garda station.

The government ordered an inquiry after it emerged that the number of claimants, at almost 290,000, was 80,000 higher than the annual labour force survey total of those seeking work. The Social Welfare minister, Proinsias de Rossa, said people were "systematically screwing the system" and that some large employers were forcing workers to stay on the dole to subsidise wages. He singled out building, catering, forestry, cleaning, and fishing as industries with extensive fiddles.