Johnny O’Meara ruling must be the catalyst for change

22 January 2024

Labour’s Deputy Alan Kelly, was today reacting following the Supreme Court 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.

Deputy Alan Kelly said:

“I’m personally delighted that my friend and neighbour Johnny O’Meara has been successful with this case and today I am thinking of him and his 3 children and what they have gone through.

“This case underscores the pressing need to address the disparity in our social protection system. Johnny O’Meara’s advocacy has brought attention to a glaring gap that denies essential support to grieving partners in cohabiting relationships.

“It is fundamentally unjust that if a partner of a cohabiting couple passes away, they currently have no entitlement to a widow’s or widower’s pension. This inequity persists, the law must evolve to recognise and support the diverse ways in which families are formed and maintained,”

“Our current system fails to provide adequate protections for those who choose not to marry or those who simply haven’t formalised their partnership.

“The concept of family has evolved, and our laws must reflect this reality. It’s time for immediate action to rectify this injustice and ensure equal treatment for all families.

“Johnny O’Meara’s case has always been about equality for his family. The lack of welfare supports for unmarried couples is a stain on Irish society. We need to step up and address the situation to provide equality for all families.

“Our social protection system has failed to keep pace with the way people live their lives. It is imperative that we address this gap to uphold the principles of fairness and compassion.”

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