Seanad Éireann - Volume 8 - 30 March, 1927
PUBLIC BUSINESS. - ARMY PENSIONS (No. 2) BILL, 1926—SECOND STAGE.
 Question proposed: “That the Army Pensions (No. 2) Bill, 1926, be read a Second Time.”
Mr. FARREN Mr. FARREN
Mr. FARREN: At the outset I wish to welcome this Bill, because I think the intention is to provide for people who were not provided for under former Pensions Acts. While saying that much, I hope the administration of this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will be somewhat better than that of previous Acts. Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power and myself had considerable experience in dealing with a number of families who came under the previous Pension Acts. I regret to say that the administration of these Acts was not all that could be desired. I recognise that those who were administering the Acts had a tremendous task to perform and that it was very difficult work. I had experience of a number of families that came under the previous Acts and on the whole those in charge administered them fairly well. There were, however, a few glaring examples of what I might describe as unfair treatment.
I do not want to mention names as it is inadvisable to do so when dealing with a matter of this kind. There was one particular family where the breadwinner lost his life during the Insurrection of Easter Week, 1916, and I am sorry to say this man's dependents were singled out for what I consider most unfair treatment. The pension paid to this family was paid from the date of the passing of the Act, while in every other case where men lost their lives during Easter Week 1916, the pension was paid from the date provisionally fixed in the Act. I thought it unfair that one particular case should be singled out for different treatment to all the others. I am sorry I had to mention this case, but I did so because I think there was unfair discrimination, more particularly as the man was a labourer. I did not think it right that his dependents should be singled out for different treatment to that accorded other families. It is rather embarrassing  for me to have to mention this matter, but I got first-hand knowledge when dealing with these families on a Committee on which Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power and myself were colleagues. That Committee was established to look after such families before public funds were available for the purpose.
I welcome the proposals in the present Bill, because I think they are desirable. Section 4 makes provision for the giving of adequate pensions to the dependents of the leaders of the Insurrection of 1916. I am glad of that. The least we could do is to do what is fair towards the dependents of the men who took great risks in order to have this State set up. The dependents of the men who signed the Proclamation of 1916 get special treatment, and they are entitled to it. A very useful provision is inserted in Section 13, whereby the claims of men who suffered disability as a result of their military activities, or whose health broke down as a result of services given to the State, can be dealt with. Under Section 14, the dependents of men who, as a result of their activities, contracted disease and died, although they were not wounded in action, can be dealt with. These men lost their lives owing to the sufferings they endured. I know there will be tremendous difficulties in administering these two sections, but I sincerely hope the Minister will endeavour to see that the dependents concerned are fairly dealt with. I believe that is the intention of the Bill. I am aware that a number of families have suffered considerably because they did not come under the provisions of the previous Pension Acts. For that reason I welcome this Bill, and I think the Government is to be congratulated on its introduction, so that dependents who did not benefit by the previous Acts may now have their claims considered.
Motion put and agreed to.
Seanad Éireann 8 PUBLIC BUSINESS. ARMY PENSIONS (No. 2) BILL, 1926—SECOND STAGE.