Good news, if you are a migrant living illegally in Ireland who wants to claim the new and improved €350 a week social welfare payment as a result of Coronavirus:

These are extraordinary times, and all that, but still, there’s something jarring even for the likes of me, who’s the resident softie on immigration around here, about the state handing out cash to people who have no business being here in the first place.

We’re not talking about asylum seekers here, or people who have migrated legitimately from other countries. We’re talking about people who don’t want their data shared with the Department of Justice or the immigration authorities because they are not supposed to be here and are at risk of being deported because they have broken the law.

And we’re going to give them €350 a week.

A few weeks ago, a similar announcement was made in respect of healthcare – but that one made sense. It basically said that if you were an illegal immigrant, then no questions would be asked about your status if you presented with Coronavirus symptoms. That’s perfectly sensible, because we don’t want people running around the country hiding their symptoms and infecting others – or dying – because of the fear they have of the immigration laws.

But this social welfare announcement? That’s on another level entirely.

Before my fellow immigration softies arrive in the comments (who are we kidding, they’re going to comment long before they get this far into the article), let’s be clear about one thing: This has nothing to do with “the Irish in America”. Whatever else happens to illegal Irish immigrants in America (who have also, remember, broken the law) we can be relatively sure that the US Federal Government is not going to be giving them $350 a week to tide them through the worst of the storm. This is a uniquely Irish innovation, and it’s a terrible one, for the simple reason that we should not reward crimes.

Though also, here’s another question: Isn’t this just empty virtue signalling? How does an illegal migrant prove that they have lost their job during the Coronavirus crisis? Few illegal migrants have PPS numbers to begin with, meaning that they’re hardly employed on the books by any company. If they’re working, it’s mainly a cash under the table sort of deal. So how could they even go about claiming a social welfare payment?

There’s also the matter of discrimination:

The very definition of social welfare fraud, after all, is claiming social welfare payments illegitimately. For example, if yours truly, who has no children, was to somehow come up with a scheme to pretend that he had three children and claim the children’s allowance, then a prosecution and possibly a prison sentence would follow. Why? Because I am not entitled to children’s allowance.

But if an illegal migrant, who is not entitled to social protection payments because they are an illegal immigrant, is to claim them anyway, we’re going to look the other way and say nothing?

Sorry to go all pub bore here for a second, but political correctness gone mad, is what it is.

Anyway, this is the kind of story that will divide people almost perfectly on political lines. If you’re a good liberal, you’ll say that this is evidence of what a compassionate and common sense and decent country we are, looking after people during the crisis no matter what their background or circumstance.

If you’re someone who’s generally opposed to the present political settlement, you’ll think it’s evidence that we’ve gone totally mad.

The good news or bad news, depending on which side you take, is that in all probability there won’t be a huge line of illegal immigrants eligible to claim it anyway.