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State pension: Taoiseach says 65-year-olds will still have to sign on under Fine Gael's new plan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed to reporters today that the transitional pension would only apply to 66-year-olds.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has confirmed that the transitional pensions Fine Gael are offering to bridge the gap between retirement age and the pension age won’t apply to 65-year-olds.

Speaking to reporters today, the Taoiseach said that it would cost around €150 million to provide a transitional pensions payment to those aged 66.

The pension age is to increase to 67 from 1 January next year, so there will be a gap between the retirement age in people’s contracts, and the age at which they can receive a State pension.

“There will be no change for people who are currently 65,” the Taoiseach said, but added that the transitional pension was “quite a substantial change in policy”. 

There had been confusion on whether the transitional payment would apply to 65 year olds as well as 66 year olds after the press release sent out by Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty only mentioned 66 year olds.

The press release said that the transitional payments would be equal to the State pension.

This is despite many work contracts having a retirement age of 65, which was the original pension age before changes were introduced in 2011 to increase the pension age.

At a separate event in Dublin, Trade Union Siptu joined together a number of other groups to call for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to stop the pension age increasing to 67 altogether.

General Secretary of SIPTU Joe Cunningham says that the two main parties are “scrambling”, and they shouldn’t be because this issue has been coming for a long time.

“I have no idea what the transitional payment is,” he said, alluding to the new payment that Fine Gael said they would introduce for 66 year olds after the pension age anomaly dominated the first week of election campaigning.

The pension age was increased from 65 to 66 in 2014 leaving a gap between the age at which most private workers retire (65) and the pension age (66). The pension age is due to be increased to 67 next year, and 68 in 2028, further compounding the problem.

To Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Cunningham demanded that they “Tell us what it is that you are at,” adding that the “two big parties” were vague on what their stance was.

Cunningham said that all the other political parties had indicated they would support the “Stop67″ campaign, and that the plan was to first stop the change in pension age to 67, and then to try to drop the pension age back to 65.

The other groups who attended today’s event at the Royal College of Surgeons on Kildare Street, Dublin included the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Age Action Ireland, and Active Retirement Ireland.

Orla O’Connor of the National Women’s Council of Ireland said that the organisation both supported the Stop67 campaign, and were also calling for the inequality of State pensions for women to be addressed.

“There’s a serious inequality in our State pensions,” she stresses, saying that there are “structural inequalities” for women.

Maureen Kavanagh of Active Retirement Ireland says retirement is a great part of life, “but it has to be voluntary, flexible and appropriate”. “We can’t force people out of a job that they love, or to stay in their job.”

- with reporting from Hayley Halpin

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