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Ferris slams failure to include farmers in new pensions scheme

25 August, 2006

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, has slammed the decision not to allow farmers to avail of a new scheme that allows persons receiving the Old Age Pension to earn up to €100 per week without that affecting their entitlements. The scheme was announced as part of the last Budget and is due to come into effect in September. Recent inquiries by Mayo Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry Murray have revealed that the scheme will not apply to farmers who are in receipt of the pension.

Deputy Ferris said: "The principle behind the new scheme is good and will go some way to addressing the issue of poverty among pensioners who will be enabled to take on paid employment and still retain their benefits. However, the fact that farmers in receipt of the old age pension are excluded is manifestly unjust, and follows on from the rather shoddy manner in which farmers who were part of the Early Retirement Scheme were treated. It indicates a serious lack of understanding of the fact that a large number of farmers, especially those who are getting on in years, experience real difficulty in making ends meet.

"There would appear to be an assumption that the ownership of land is somehow in itself a bar against poverty. That of course is completely wrong. For the vast majority of farmers, their land is simply the means by which they earn their livelihood. Many not only reach retirement age with few savings, but a significant number are also burdened with debt. Therefore, any relief for those who have to continue working past the retirement age would be much needed. I would urge that the Minister for Social and Family Affairs to change the criteria to allow farmers to participate in the scheme." ENDS

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