David Norris calls for change to pension legislation

1980s anomaly prevents gay public servants leaving pension entitlements to partners

Senator David Norris ‘pettifogging regulation’ should be corrected for the few people it affected. Photograph: Alan Betson

Senator David Norris ‘pettifogging regulation’ should be corrected for the few people it affected. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Independent Senator David Norris has called for an anomaly in pensions legislation, which prevents gay public servants allocating their entitlements to their partners, to be addressed.

Mr Norris described the problem as “some kind of pettifogging regulation”, which should be corrected for the few people it affected.

The Trinity College Senator said that in the 1980s workers, particularly in the Civil Service, were circulated with a memorandum asking them whether they wished to leave their pension entitlements to a wife or husband.

“At that stage,”, he said, “long before civil partnership or anything like that, the tiny number of gay persons involved, whether couples or not, replied ‘No’”.

He said this reply that they did not want to leave their pension entitlements to husbands and wives, “whom they did not have and whom at that stage they could not have, is being used to disbar them now from allocating pension entitlements to their partners”.

Mr Norris said it affected only a small number and was therefore not a financial issue. He called on Minister for Public Reform and Expenditure Brendan Howlin to fix it.

The Seanad leader, Maurice Cummins, said that if Mr Norris provided the information to Mr Howlin, he was sure the Minister would consider his proposal.

IBRC concerns

On a separate issue, Paul Coghlan of Fine Gael said Minister for Finance Michael Noonan had moved quickly to address concerns about the IBRC sale of Siteserv.

Mr Coghlan criticised the behaviour of the former Anglo Irish Bank and said there was impatience in the Department of Finance about how the bank was being run down.

“Reading some of the correspondence from IBRC to the department and some of the public commentary from IBRC sources over the past few days,” he said, “one could be forgiven for forgetting that IBRC was an entity that was fully funded by the taxpayer and not market-capitalised.”