FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday 26th of October 2022
“The government must support the Social Welfare (Surviving Cohabitant’s Pension) Bill to end the discrimination against cohabiting couples and their children.” Damien Peelo stated, CEO of Treoir, The National Information Service for Unmarried Parents.
“As Johnny O’Meara’s case in the High Court was recently rejected, it is more important than ever that all parties come together to support modern Irish families, married or not.” he said.
Johnny O’Meara was cohabiting with his partner, Michelle Batey, for over 20 years. They had 3 children and a mortgage together. Tragically, Ms. Batey died suddenly in January 2021 of covid-19. Both Ms. Batey and Mr. O’Meara had made the necessary PRSI contributions to avail of the Widow/Widower’s Contributory Pension.
Despite this, Johnny O’Meara and his children were told by the Department of Social Protection that they were not entitled to either the Widow’s Pension or the Bereavement Grant. His case was heard in the High Court in summer 2022 by Mr. Justice Heslin. Although the judge acknowledged that they constituted a ‘family’, he ruled it was not at the discretion of the Court to decide who should benefit from these payments.
The Widow’s Contributory Pension is a weekly payment of €208.50-€258.50 depending on the age of the recipient. The Bereavement Grant is a once off payment of €8,000.
Damien Peelo continued “In Ireland, there are 150,000 cohabiting couples and 75,000 of which have children. Many of them are not aware that they are not entitled to these payments. The government should guarantee families not based on marriage are not unfairly penalized during one of the most difficult times in a family’s life.”
“This content of the bill has overwhelming public support. Recent nationwide surveys show that 90% of Irish people would support an overhaul of the treatment of cohabiting couples for tax and pension entitlements.”
The Labour Party will introduce this Bill in the Seanad today at 7pm.
Treoir is a membership organisation made up of 26 different organisations around Ireland. See complete list here: Member Agencies – Treoir
Sinéad Murray – Communications Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org & 0857352959
Damien Peelo – CEO email@example.com & 087 9714890
Both are available for interview.