Sunday, May 19, 2024

'I think it's unfair' - Priest denied pension due to missionary work

An Irish priest has been denied a pension because of his decades of service working as a missionary overseas. 

Fr Patsy Lynch was ordained in 1974 and then spent 31 years in Ghana working for the Society of African Missions.

He returned back to Ireland in 2005 and was eventually appointed a parish priest in Kerry. 

In 2015, he reached State pension age but was surprised to learn he did not have enough PRSI contributions to qualify for the benefit

“Eight years later, it is the same situation,” he told Lunchtime Live

“I applied for the State pension contributory and I was told that to qualify for State pension contributory I must have at least 520 fully paid social insurance contributions before the 66th birthday. 

“They said according to all records I have 416 - I am 104 short.” 

'31 years in Ghana doesn’t come into it at all'

Revenue has no records of contributions made by Fr Patsy prior to 2007; his time working in Ghana does not count towards an Irish pension and he will not be entitled to any other form of social welfare while he continues to work

“The way I see it now, I will continue working maybe for a few more years but as long as I work and I am getting the salary for a parish priest of €32,600 and that is above the rate at which I am being assessed,” he said. 

“The 31 years in Ghana doesn’t come into it at all - which I think is unfair.” 

Fr Patsy believes previously there was an exception for priests working as missionaries abroad but believes is doubtful he personally will ever receive a pension.  

“It seems the time when I applied in ‘66, there were some loopholes and it seems that [since then] they were tightened up and that was the reason I was unsuccessful,” he said. 

“A lot of people told me, a lot of politicians, that they would follow it up because [I should] get it. 

“But my accountant told me, ‘No, there’s no point, Patsy.’”

To qualify for an Irish pension, you need a minimum of 520 PRSI contributions - which works out as equivalent to 10 years as a taxpayer in the State.