No amount of money could compensate for the loss of a husband, father and breadwinner. However, the levels of benefits granted by way of pensions and lump sum to the widows of soldiers who were killed in the early 1960s while serving with the United Nations in the Congo were regarded as appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances prevailing at the time.
A new Army Pensions Act was enacted in 1960 to provide, among other things, enhanced pension benefits for the dependants of military personnel who died in the course of UN service abroad. Furthermore, the Government of the day authorised the introduction of a new scheme of extra-statutory lump sum payments for such dependants. Under the scheme, a lump sum equivalent to €4,444 was payable to the widow of a soldier killed on UN service. This was a relatively substantial sum of money at that time.
Pensions granted at the time have been increased over the years in accordance with the standard method of increasing public service pensions. Additionally, the method of computing the widow's pension under the Army Pensions Acts in the case of personnel killed in the course of duty was specially enhanced from 1975. The benefit of this enhancement was extended to pensions already in payment. All such pensions are now increased in line with increases in pay granted to serving military personnel.
In addition to benefits under legislation and schemes specific to the Defence Forces, the widows of soldiers killed on UN service in the Congo would have been eligible for pensions under the social welfare legislation applicable at the time. All things considered, it is not appropriate to re-open this matter as suggested by the Deputy.