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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

"Farm Women Demand reinstatement of Pensions taken away by Minister Hanafin"


"At a protest in Dublin this afternoon, farm women from all over the country will demand that the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin fully restore the pensions she took away from elderly farm women in January. IFA President John Bryan said the move by the Minister and her officials then to axe the pension was a u-turn on her agreement two years ago to pay a pension recognising the lifetime's work of farm women.

Addressing the farm pensioners who have been directly affected, John Bryan said, "the disgraceful decision to deprive farm women of a pension is a heartless move against a hidden workforce who had finally gained some recognition for decades of work on the farm."

He strongly criticised Minister Mary Hanafin for her persistent refusal to meet with IFA since letters were issued to pension recipients in January telling them their entitlements were being disallowed. An agreement was negotiated with Minister Hanafin in good faith to include these farm women in the State contributory pension. A deal is a deal and the Minister must honour her word.

John Bryan said the Minister and her Department cannot simply ignore the genuine cases of women whose farm partnerships have been recognised by the Department, and who paid the necessary PRSI contributions in order to qualify for their pensions.

IFA Farm Family Chairwoman Margaret Healy said the treatment of these elderly women has caused great distress and upset. She said, "the Department's decision to grant a pension was the culmination of a hard-fought campaign by the IFA Farm Family Committee on behalf of farm spouses whose lifetime's work on the family farm had not been officially recognised."

Margaret Healy said she was very concerned for the welfare of the women pensioners, whose pensions have been taken away without warning. "Some of these women are without their weekly pensions since early January and this leaves them in a very vulnerable situation. Our elderly people are entitled to a more caring attitude from the Minister and her Department. The Minister must honour her agreement and reinstate the pensions of these elderly women," she concluded."

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