A community leader in Co Waterford has blamed the last government's abolition of the telephone allowance for a reduction in uptake by older people of panic-button activated Seniors Alert System.

John Hogan, former president of voluntary community development group Muintir na Tíre, lives in a parish bordering on Ballysaggart where 90-year-old Paddy Lyons was found murdered at the weekend.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One last night, Mr Hogan said the withdrawal of the telephone allowance in the 2013 budget has had "a knock-on effect" because some older people got rid of their landline phones as they could no longer afford them.

He said many people in Waterford had handed back their pendants and panic buttons.

Mr Hogan said he was not suggesting that Mr Lyons had ever used the SAS.

However, he said that the issue has re-emerged in the context of the elevation of the level of fear among people in isolated areas following the killing.

He urged the Government to introduce a new telephone allowance "so that people could have an alarm system in place at a low cost".

Initially, the SAS - which is administered by organisations including Muintir na Tíre - could only be provided to customers with landlines.

In 2013, it provided over 9,000 isolated pensioners with a pendant alarm.

Mr Hogan said the alarm can now be linked to a Sim card in the pensioner's home, but connectivity issues make it far from universal.

In late 2013, a Muintir na Tíre survey of dozens of branches revealed that mobile phone coverage in a quarter of rural areas was "poor".

Muintir na Tíre warned at the time that the withdrawal of the telephone allowance raised particular security concerns for pensioners living in communication black spots.

In 2012, the allowance amounted to €22.60 a month, but the following year it was more than halved and it was abolished in January 2014.