I asked the Minister for Justice on a previous occasion whether he proposed to do anything for the Garda widows and my recollection is that at the moment he did not find himself in a position to give any definite reply, though I imagine that both he and the Minister for Finance are aware of the fact that a somewhat anomalous situation exists in respect of these widows. I believe that what the Minister for Justice said to me was that the matter of my query was more a matter for the Minister for public Health. In fact, I think, the Minister for Justice is mistaken. My submission is that provision ought to be made in any Garda Síochána Bill introduced at this time which would cover the anomaly that exists in regard to widows' pensions. I find myself being made the victim of a not infrequent inter-departmental device and that is being sent running from one Minister to the other.
Ordinarily, members of the Garda Síochána would be people who would stamp national health insurance cards. But, when the Garda Síochána Act was passed in 1925, for some good and sufficient reason it was decided to exclude them from that scheme; I suppose because there was a scheme within the force for the protection of their health. But it was not anticipated then that, linked up with the national health insurance scheme, would be the widows' and orphans' pension scheme. Garda widows' pensions were fixed on a certain basis in relation to the pay of the Gardaí, but, whereas every other analogous employee acquires, by virtue of his national health insurance stamps, the right to a contributory pension under the widows' and orphans' pension scheme, all reference to the income of a Garda's widow is left out.