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TD Bríd Smith says voters should push for firm commitments from partly leaders for the pension age to be reverse to 65.
TD Bríd Smith says voters should push for firm commitments from partly leaders for the pension age to be reverse to 65.
Image: Leah Farrell

Bríd Smith: The main political parties 'loaded the gun and pulled the trigger on the pension age'

People Before Profit TDs have called for the pension age to be reversed to 65.
Jan 22nd 2020, 4:05 PM 17,629 94

ALL THE MAIN political parties are to blame for the increase in the pension age, according to People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith. 

Speaking at the launch of their manifesto today, she said that the Green Party, the Labour Party as well as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have their fingerprints on the policy change. 

The pension age and State pensions has become a big issue in the campaigning for the 2020 general election, with parties trying to both appeal to voters but also acknowledge that the growing population means there might not be enough in the pot for everyone in the future. 

With politicians vying for people’s’ votes, all parties are keen to make promises in relation to the age, with a range of different commitments being made. 

However, Smith urged voters to remember where this all began. 

The Troika days 

“This was a measure brought in under austerity by a Green-Fianna Fáil government and then legislated for by a Fine Gael-Labour government, so all of these main parties, that may or may not join together to form a future coalition, have between them loaded the gun and pulled the trigger on the pension age and therefore committed to the robbery of pensioners meager finances,” she said.

The policy change around increasing the pension age began in 2011, when the Labour Party was in government with Fine Gael.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said this week that the rise in the pension age was agreed by the Fianna Fáil-Green government as part of the bailout deal with the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund – the three agencies known as the Troika. 

The Fine Gael-Labour government then legislated for the increased age at which you can start to receive a State pension from 65 to 66 in 2014.

This has resulted in thousands of 65 year olds having to sign on to Jobseeker’s Benefit to get some form of payment before their pension kicks in. 

IMG_7201 (1) Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd Barrett, and Gino Kenny. Source: Christina Finn

The pension age is set to increase to 67 in 2021, and 68 in 2028 under the same plan. 

Smith today urged voters to “pile on the pressure” on all party leaders “to make a firm commitment that they will be held to that they will abolish the rise beyond 65″. 

Dun Laoghaire TD Richard Boyd Barrett said People Before Profit were not “johnny-come-lately” on the pension policy, stating that since he has entered the Dáil the party has consistently called for the restoration of the pension age to 65. 

He said the party voted against its implantation at the time. 

“If this goes ahead workers in this country will be robbed of just under €13,000 per year. 

“€13,000 robbed out of the pockets of people that worked and contributed to our society” he said, adding that if the pension age is allowed to rise that will another €13,000 each year. 

“That is a scandal,” he said. 

Today, Fianna Fáil denied a pledged review of state pension provision is an attempt to kick the controversy over entitlement age down the road.

A plan to increase the qualifying age from 66 to 67 next year would remain on hold until the review was completed, said Finance spokesman Michael McGrath. 

He said decisions that would shape pension policy for 30 years should not be made on the back of an envelope or in the heat of an election campaign.

McGrath was pressed on Fianna Fail’s position on the pension age – an issue that has featured prominently during the first week of the election campaign – as he launched the party’s election promises on personal taxation.

The party has committed to undertaking what McGrath described as a “comprehensive” review of the state pension if elected.

In the interim, he said a transitional pension would be paid to those private sector workers who are contractually required to retire at 65 but who currently have to claim job seekers’ allowance – which pays less than the pension – until they become eligible for the state pension a year later.

Last night, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said Fine Gael plans to introduce a transition payment at the same rate as the State pension to avoid people having to apply for the dole when they retire.

This will apply for those that retire at the age of 66, and not 65. 

People Before Profit’s manifesto also commits to building 100,000 public and affordable houses, creating a living wage, abolishing all college fees, and introducing 33 hours of free childcare per week. 

With reporting by PA

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Christina Finn

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