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Quasilegal in Ireland

8 October 2002 —

I worked at Heaton's department store in downtown Kilkenny Ireland from February to September 2002. I was stocking the gents' department and operating the third of three cash registers. Late September, the human resources office up in Dublin discovered that I don't have a work permit. [I'm American.]

At least, that was the version of the story that I got from the general manager. And I believe[d] him. I had, perhaps naïvely, become more involved with the union recently. But I don't think that was the cause of my dismissal. Anyhow, there's no point in speculating. The job's gone, and it's gone.

The quasi-legality of my work status in Ireland is peculiar. I have a tax number, based upon the fact that I went to the social welfare office and asked for it. This number, for which the government printed me a nice plastic card, confers upon me no rights. I'm entitled to no benefits,* and I cannot work (legally.) However, I can pay taxes—although my income tends to be below the "cutoff point," so my taxable income is nil.

I can present my tax number to a new employer, who often does not seem to know (or does not want to know) that I'm not really a legal employee. Of course, the job can be revoked unceremoniously if someone decides to notice.


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* When I returned to Ireland from The Netherlands in 2005, the Department of Family and Social Services awarded me the "jobseeker's benefit" — the dole, which was a help to me for much of the proceeding 6 years.

  ↑ Return to "no benefits" ...