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Sinn Féin requests meeting on exclusion of farmers from pensions scheme

30 August, 2006

The Sinn Féin Spokespersons on Agriculture and Social Welfare, Martin Ferris TD and Sean Crowe TD, have requested a meeting with Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan and Social and Family Affairs Minister Seámus Brennan, to discuss the anomaly whereby farmers receiving the Non-Contributory Old Age Pension are excluded from a new scheme which is to come into effect at the end of September.

The scheme will allow those receiving the pension to earn up to €100 per week without affecting their benefits. However the scheme will not apply to around 15,000 farmers.

Deputy Ferris said: "Both Deputy Crowe and I have welcomed the new scheme. However, we cannot fathom why it will not be available to farmers on the pension, many of whom are on low incomes and would benefit from this concession. This anomaly was brought to light by Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry Murray from Charlestown, County Mayo who was inquiring on behalf of constituents. It would appear from discussions with some Department officials that the exclusion of farmers may be due to an oversight. If so we would urgently request that Minister Coughlan use today's Cabinet meeting to persuade her colleagues to amend the regulations.

"We are requesting a meeting with the two Ministers in order to bring to their attention the injustice of the situation and to impress upon them the urgency of ensuring that the new scheme is changed in time to allow farmers take advantage of it when it comes into effect at the end of September."


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