'The buck stops with the Department'
A farm crisis is developing after the EU decided that widows and widowers can no longer claim their deceased spouse's pension via the Early Retirement Scheme. Darragh McCullough spoke to one widow about her retirement plight
'My husband died tragically last January due to mis-management of a simple problem at our local hospital. It was an awful shock to be left widowed in my fifties.
"We worked together on the farm here for 30 years. We milked 30 cows and I often helped out with the milking, herding or feeding calves, especially when he wanted to get away to a hurling match.
"In the last couple of years, he started to slow down so, with our son keen to farm part-time while he worked on the buildings, we decided to sell off the cows and avail of the Early Retirement Scheme.
"It took months to get through all the red tape and prove to the Department that the lease with our son was all bona fide.
"So, we had only been in receipt of it for the last year and a half.
"I notified the Department of my husband's death straight away and the payments ceased immediately. A few weeks later, a lady came out to do an inspection to ensure that I would qualify for the pension to be transferred to me.
"There were all kinds of forms to be filled out again and she wanted to see if we had sold any sites or anything since the pension had started. But by the end of the day, she assured me that everything looked in order and that it would only take a few weeks to get the payments going again.