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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 14 August, 2020
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Good news for pensioners: The State pension is going up by €5 a week from today

Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea said promoting the pension increase through a Facebook video was “cynical”.

Updated 6.45pm

TODAY, FINE GAEL published a video on Facebook hailing the pension increase that comes into effect from this week.

The video features a collection of people who will benefit from the increase of €5 a week. The participants frequently mention how much the extra €260 a year will be a great boost.

At one stage, one woman says “God bless Mr Noonan”, referring to Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.

Posted by on Friday, 14 August 2020

However, the increase to the pension from March, which was announced in last October’s Budget, may have been delayed as it was understood at the time that the increase would be brought in from mid-2017.

The government thinking behind postponing the rise was to allow other possible increases to be given to those on social welfare, such as disabled people, carers, blind people and widows.

Minister Leo Varadkar had already outlined numerous provisions that he said would reform the pensions system in Ireland. In terms of state benefits, the €5 was a commitment paid in the programme for government alongside an increase in other welfare payments.

He said in a statement: “For many of these groups it represents the first increase since 2009. I appreciate that the increase is modest but it is a permanent increase and certainly a step in the right direction.”

Fianna Fáil, however, insisted on its inclusion from January and the matter was a real test for the agreement between that party and Fine Gael on supporting the latter’s Budgets for the next three years.

Although Micheál Martin did not call it a “red line issue”, the increase to the old-age pension was eventually set to be introduced from March.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson for social protection, Limerick TD Willie O’Dea described Fine Gael promoting the pension increase in such a manner as “cynical” and claimed that his party was behind the increase.

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“It was forced on them by us essentially,” he told TheJournal.ie. “They were under threat that we wouldn’t support the budget, and they gave it grudgingly.”

He said that any increases to state benefits would normally take effect from 1 January but, because this did not come into effect until March, the benefit to people over the course of a year would be less than €5 a week.

It was something they may as well have been forced at gunpoint do. [Using a video] is cynical, and people will see it as that. There’s a lot of cynicism about politics out there, and this just creates more of it. Its contemptible really.

O’Dea added that the increase was a bare minimum that was required for pensioners, and said that no increases were made to the pension for the majority of Fine Gael’s time in government since 2011.

Anyone over the age of 66 in receipt of a pension, including older carers and widows, will receive an increase.

Fine Gael said the increase will directly affect 600,000 people across the country.

Read: “Unacceptable”: Fianna Fáil’s Budget battle with Varadkar is going down to the wire

Read: Up by a fiver: Social welfare payments to increase by €5 from March

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Sean Murray

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