Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has liaised with his Portuguese opposite number to restore pension payments to three Irish nuns.

The payments were stopped when the sisters returned from Portugal to live in Ireland.

Mr Tyndall said the nuns closed their personal accounts and asked for their pensions to be paid to their religious congregation in Ireland instead.

The problem arose "because the Portuguese authorities normally pay pensions directly into personal bank accounts".

Mr Tyndall said the nuns - who have asked to remain anonymous - had been without pension payments for over six months when they complained to him.

In a statement he said the congregation complained to him that they had written letters and emails and had even phoned the relevant Portuguese authorities but had received no replies.

The Ombudsman turned to the European Ombudsman Network before the modest income was restored and arrears were paid.


Analysis from Joe Little

Mr Tyndall's statement unveils a web of quiet diplomacy involving Church, State and what some sceptics label the would-be European Super State.

The Ombudsman says that, in the course of decades of ministry in Portugal, the nuns had provided education and care to disadvantaged people.

"The religious congregation in Ireland … had great difficulties trying to resolve the problem with the Portuguese authorities" his statement lamented.

But the key to breaking Lisbon's bureaucratic stonewalling of the beseeching sisters was the Dublin-Brussels axis, via the European Ombudsman Network.

Not surprisingly - to this correspondent at least - the network is co-ordinated by former RTÉ current affairs reporter and serving EU Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly (who, to confuse matters, is really a woman). What's more, she's a predecessor of Mr Tyndall's in Dublin.

Not even a Portuguese Man-Of-War could deter that impressive combination.

Predictably, the Office of the Portuguese Ombudsman quickly saw the writing on the wall.

He (or could it be she as no name is provided in Mr Tyndall's despatch) is also a member of the Irish-dominated network observers of which whisper knowingly about secret oaths, demonic rituals and mysterious handshakes.

The entire spectacle may be a red flag to Brexiteers who regularly rail against the Euro-federalist agenda in these days of "ever closer union". They've even accused Brussels of "weaponising" the Irish border issue since the UK's "leave" vote in an attempt to goad the British Lion!

But braving the choppy waters of populist nationalism which are now pounding coastlines as far apart as the Apennine and Iberain peninsulas, Mr Tyndall keyed into that EU web of despicable and surrender-ridden multilateralism to contact his Portuguese opposite number who, in turn, called in Lisbon's pension authorities.

The Ombudsman arranged for a series of documents and declarations to be sent to his Portuguese counterpart. And "finally", as Mr Tyndall declares with ill-disguised bravura, "the Portuguese pension authorities agreed to pay the nuns their pension entitlements".

To boot, in the spirit of draft EU divorce settlements being mulled over by Michel Barnier and Boris Johnson, the Portuguese authorities also paid the nuns the arrears that were due following the six-month transnational hiatus.

If only all of the EU's crises could be resolved so simply.