Tuesday 25 October 2016

Convicted rapist challenging law preventing prisoners receiving state pension

Tim Healy

Published 13/11/2015 | 17:53

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A CONVICTED rapist claims a law preventing prisoners aged over 65 from receiving the state pension while they are serving custodial sentences is unconstitutional.

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The High Court challenge has been brought by the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, currently serving a 12 year prison sentence after he was convicted of multiple charges of raping and sexually assaulting his daughter.

The case is against the Minister for Social Protection,  Ireland and the Attorney General who oppose his action.

The man, now aged in his seventies,  with full remission, is due for release in less than 4 years time.

He claims the 2005 Social Welfare Consolidation Act, which "disqualified" prisoners who are of pensionable age from receiving the State Pension (contributory) or old age pension, breaches the Constitution and the  European Convention on Human Rights.

The court heard the man had worked at various jobs all his life, in the public and private sectors, and was also for a time self employed.

There was no dispute he had made enough social insurance contributions to entitlement to the the full amount of state pension of €230 per week, his counsel Eoghan Fitzsimons told the court.

Following his conviction he was, under the provision of the 2005 Act, disqualified from receiving  the payment.

As he is unable to do any prison work on health grounds, he is destitute in prison, it is claimed.

He is experiencing more hardship in prison compared to other inmates, it is claimed.

The only money he gets is a prison gratuity of €11.90 per week, which is all he has to spend in the prison's tuck shop.

Unlike other prisoners he does not have personal items like a DVD player.

He gets his clothing from the St Vincent De Paul,  cannot afford to buy coffee, so drinks tea instead.

If the man got remission on his sentence it was estimated he would lose out on more than €95,000 in pension payments because of the disqualification order, his counsel said.

The State argues the discontinuance of the pension to people in prison who are over 66 was a social policy choice.

The man will receive payments on his release from prison.

The hearing before Mr Justice Donald Binchy continues.

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