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Hala Salman Alaabsali (39) and Raghad Salaman Alaabsali (29), both with an address at Drumcondra Road Upper, Dublin, were given suspended sentences
Two sisters have avoided jail after they pleaded guilty to making false statements for the purpose of obtaining Direct Provision payments worth a total of just over €10,000.
Hala Salman Alaabsali (39) and Raghad Salaman Alaabsali (29), both with an address at Drumcondra Road Upper, Dublin 9, were each given suspended sentences of 16 months and ordered to be of good behaviour for that period.
Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday, Judge Martin Nolan described it as “an unusual case of criminal behaviour” but said the sisters did not deserve to be imprisoned.
The court heard that the sisters, who have both Spanish and Iraqi citizenship, used valid Iraqi documents to claim asylum seeker payments of some €38 weekly, along with accommodation and meals, to which they were not entitled as they are also EU citizens.
“While their behaviour is to be condemned, they have no record of conviction and it is probably very unlikely that they will reoffend,” said Judge Nolan, noting that both women are working and have repaid the monies to the State.
Keith Spencer BL, defending both sisters, said they had received “appalling advice” on their arrival in Ireland to apply for asylum under the Direct Provision system.
Mr Spencer said although it would be easy to characterise them as people who took from the State, they were tax-paying contributors who gave back to the State and had volunteered with a number of groups including Vincent de Paul, Inner City Helping Homeless and the Free Legal Advice Centre.
Hala Salman Alaabsali pleaded guilty to three counts of making false statements for the purpose of obtaining Direct Provision payments totalling €6,832 between August 2017 and November 2019.
Raghad Salaman Alaabsali pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements for the purpose of obtaining Direct Provision payments totalling €4,187 between August 2017 and August 2019.
She further admitted one count of making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a PPS number at D’Olier House, D’Olier Street, Dublin 2, on August 3, 2017.
Garda Eimhear Keeshan told John Berry BL, prosecuting, that the sisters were originally Iraqi nationals who moved to Spain with their parents in the year 2000.
They were granted Spanish nationality in 2012 and 20145 and moved to Ireland in 2017.