Varadkar vows to protect 35,000 pensions paid to UK residents
There are almost 35,000 residents in the UK in receipt of an Irish pension, according to new figures provided by Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar.
More than 18,000 of these individuals live in England, while almost 2,000 currently have addresses in Northern Ireland.
The figures relate to the Irish State pension, and the Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's pension.
And Mr Varadkar also confirmed that there are in excess of 135,000 recipients of the UK state pension residing in Ireland.
The significant number of individuals in receipt of benefits has heightened concerns about the impact of Brexit.
Independents 4 Change TD Tommy Broughan, who obtained the information through a parliamentary question, said the figures show the absolute necessity of protecting those receiving pensions.
"Obviously there is a very large number of people in Ireland and the UK in receipt of pensions - there is a hugely close bond between us," Mr Broughan told the Irish Independent.
"The recent Brexit result has thrown up huge questions. I'm not convinced the Government is properly prepared for the impact it will have.
"I think all necessary steps should be taken to protect entitlements on both sides of the Irish Sea so there can be no negative impact," the Dublin Bay North TD added.
The large level of individuals in receipt of these entitlements has prompted Mr Varadkar to declare that the issue must be at the forefront of the post-Brexit negotiations.
The Dublin West TD, pictured below, said these individuals must now be protected.
"Following the outcome of the UK referendum, negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU will take time.
"In the interim, it is important to stress that all payments made by the Department of Social Protection, including those to recipients who are resident in Britain and Northern Ireland, and payments from the UK to residents in Ireland, will continue to be paid," Mr Varadkar said.
My overriding priority in my role as Minister for Social Protection is to ensure that cross-border workers and pensioners have their incomes, pensions and other benefits fully protected as part of the new arrangements that will have to be negotiated between the UK and the EU, and bilaterally between Ireland and the UK. In addition, liability for the payment of social security contributions in the case of cross-border workers, people who have been posted to work in the UK or who are working in the UK and in Ireland will continue under the current arrangements.
"The Irish Government will prioritise the needs of its citizens and residents," he added.