Row regarding pension award for fireman's widow in North

The widow of a fireman from the North faces losing thousands of pounds in a dispute over his pension, it was claimed today.

The widow of a fireman from the North faces losing thousands of pounds in a dispute over his pension, it was claimed today.

The Fire Brigades’ Union is calling for chairman of the fire service Bill Gillespie to resign over the row.

Paul O’Brien, 36, died in a car accident on his way home from duty in February. The union claimed he was still working but his employer proposes to pay his widow Anita an off-duty allowance, understood to be worth around £12,000 (€13,300) a year less.

Union representative Jim Barbour said: “We have a widow here with three young children. The wrong decision has been taken, the unfair decision has been taken and a disgraceful decision has been taken.”

Mr O’Brien, with the service for ten years, was returning from a cross-border road rescue training exercise in Castlederg when he was killed.

The union maintains he died an hour and a half before he was due to go off duty and had more work to do when he arrived home near Ederney.

His widow will lose around £200,000 (€222,384) over the next two years as a result of the decision to pay an off-duty pension and lump sum, the union estimates. His children are Riona, Evie, Tiana.

Mr Barbour added: “Paul’s widow has lost her husband and as a widow with three young children to support on a very meagre income, we are very clear that Peter was on duty.”

He said Mr Gillespie should consider his position.

A Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) spokesperson said: “NIFRS can confirm that an award has been made, under The firefighters’ pension scheme, to the widow of Firefighter Paul O’Brien following his untimely and tragic death in a road traffic collision.

“Under the terms of the firefighters pension scheme this process is ongoing and it would be inappropriate for NIFRS to comment further at this time.”

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