Published on 10 October 2019

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall had to contact his Portuguese counterpart when the Portuguese State pension authorities stopped paying three Irish nuns their pensions. The nuns had returned to Ireland after spending decades in Portugal providing education and care to disadvantaged people. The nuns had been without pension payments for over six months when they complained to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman used the European Ombudsman Network to eventually restore the payments to the nuns.

The problem arose as the Portuguese authorities normally pay pensions directly into personal bank accounts. However, after their return to Ireland the three nuns needed their pensions paid to their religious congregation as they no longer had personal accounts.

The religious congregation in Ireland explained to the Ombudsman that they had great difficulties trying to resolve the problem with the Portuguese authorities as they received no replies to their letters, emails and phone calls.

The Ombudsman is part of a European Ombudsman Network which is coordinated by the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly. The Office of the Portuguese Ombudsman is also a member of the network.

The Irish Ombudsman contacted the Portuguese Ombudsman who, in turn, contacted the Portuguese pension authorities. The Irish Ombudsman arranged for a series of documents and declarations to be sent to the Portuguese Ombudsman. Finally the Portuguese pension authorities agreed to pay the pension entitlements and the arrears that was due to the nuns.