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Sinn Féin meet Firefighters union over Pension concerns

26 February, 2008

Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey, speaking after meeting representatives of the Firefighters union (FBU), has expressed concern about possible changes to the Firefighters Pensions Scheme (FPS) that may have a catastrophic impact on firefighters and their families.

Ms Ramsey said:

"Firefighters contribute some 11% of their wages into the Firefighters Pensions Scheme. This is almost twice the normal rate for contribution to a public sector pension scheme and is largely because it is such a physically demanding job with a real risk that injury could leave a firefighter unfit for operational duty.

"However changes over the last couple of years has clouded the issue and there is now a greater confusion because of guidance from Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) in London in 2004 and 2006.

"The 2004 guidance would allow for a firefighter unable to perform their operation role through ill-health or injury could be redeployed but that if there was no appropriate vacancy that they would be medically retired and would receive the ill-health/injury pension they were entitled to.

"However, the guidance in 2006 would in effect mean that if a firefighter could still perform a small part of their role - even an entirely desk-bound role - then they would not be pensioned off. But if there were no vacancies for re-deployment then the firefighter would be dismissed from service without getting the ill-health/injury pension they were entitled to.

"This is shabby treatment of our firefighters and there is a real risk that they will lose out financially. I will be raising these issues with the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey who has responsibility for these issues to ensure that he brings forward measures to restore the ill-health entitlement for our firefighters." ENDS

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