The Supreme Court today issued a unanimous ruling that the long-time partner of a woman who died in 2021 is entitled to the widower’s pension despite the fact that the couple were not married and did not have a civil partnership. The decision relates to Mr John O’Meara who lives in Nenagh. John O’Meara, and his three children had challenged the High Court’s decision to uphold the refusal of the Minister for Social Protection to grant him the pension.
The court found the section of the legislation excluding Mr O’Meara from claiming the pension was invalid and unconstitutional in that it did not extend to Mr O’Meara as a parent of the couple’s three children.
Mr O’Meara claim for the Widowers Contributory Pension (WCP) arose after his partner of over 20 years, Michelle Batey, died after contracting Covid-19 in January 2021 as she was recovering from breast cancer. The Minister for Social Protection, the Government and the Attorney General had opposed Mr O’Meara’s claim.
The ruling has been welcomed by Tipperary TD Alan Kelly who supported Mr O’Meara in his action. Mr Kelly says the case has brought attention to a glaring gap that denies essential support to grieving partners in cohabiting relationships.