“The Greens claim repeatedly to have put down markers about their influence over Fianna Fáil in Government. But this week they went missing from a crucial vote on legislation which will allow one former Fianna Fáil Minister to claim a backdated pension.
“Green Party Senators must now clarify why they refused to stand their ground on this issue, particularly when other citizens in the same boat will not have the same entitlement. In particular, we need to know whether there is division among the Government parties.
“As it stands State Pensioners can only get their pensions backdated for a maximum of six months. But last week Finance Minister Brian Cowen introduced legislation to allow one specific former Fianna Fáil Minister an extra five years to claim his.
“The rules for receipt of the State Pension are clear. A late applicant can get the award of their pension backdated for up to six months. In some exceptional circumstances, the Department does backdate further but this is very, very unusual. In fact, when acting on behalf of constituents who, like the former Minister, neglected to apply for their pension in time, I was told that ignorance of the rules is no excuse and only a maximum of six months pension entitlements will be granted.
“Brian Cowen is clearly looking out for a former colleague and friend. All State pensioners now have the right to know whether he will look out for them too.”