Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Change will deliver for RUC widows - many who lost husbands as a result of terrorism during the Troubles

On Monday TUV once again proved that it makes a valuable and significant contribution to politics in Northern Ireland.

Under the Police Pension (NI) Regulations 2009 a police widow can remarry and retain her pension. However, under the old rules (1988) a police widow who remarried would lose her pension.

In one case a young woman with a number of small children was widowed in her 20s.

Years later, as she was trying to put those children through university, she met someone whom she wanted to marry, but she couldn’t because the financial circumstances.

She needed her pension to put her children through university and so sacrificed her own interests and did not remarry.

The case got worse because in 2008-09 changes were made which left many with the impression that all police widows could remarry and retain their pension.

Therefore the woman went on to make marriage plans, only to discover that the change did not apply to her. She therefore suffered the blow of having to cancel.

That was manifestly unfair and something which wouldn’t happen a PSNI widow today. The number of people impacted is relatively small but it is a significant issue of equality. There can be no justification for treating RUC widows less fairly than others within the police family.

An amendment from Jim Allister rectified this situation by repealing the part of the 1988 regulations which removed a widow’s pension upon remarriage.

The amendment also restores lost pensions from July 1, 2014 to widows who had remarried under the old rules.

Most of those who will benefit from the change are RUC widows who lost their husbands as a result of terrorism.

Some of the affected widows have been campaigning for years, with MPs and others, to address this issue. Indeed, DUP MLA Paul Givan told the Assembly that the issue had been raised by his party’s MPs and their MEP.

However, as was the case with terrorist Special Advisers, it was TUV who found a solution and delivered for RUC widows.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk