Wednesday 20 November 2019

Plan to cut big state pensions populist, say retired officials

Public Expenditure and Reform junior minister Brian Hayes
Public Expenditure and Reform junior minister Brian Hayes

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

A GROUP representing 11,000 retired public servants has described a minister's comments that cuts to big state pensions are inevitable as "populist".

The Retired Civil and Public Servants Association hit back at Public Expenditure and Reform junior minister Brian Hayes's revelation that the Government has tabled the cuts as part of a bid to make payroll savings of €1bn.

The group said the plan is unlikely to raise much money and insisted all serving and retired public servants had already contributed enough.

The group also dismissed remarks by employer body IBEC that state workers' pensions should be cut across the board as a case of it not wanting to "waste a good crisis".

IBEC director of industrial relations Brendan McGinty claimed public sector pensions were the "elephant in the room" when private sector pensions were being "decimated".

When asked if the group opposed cuts to the pensions of former high-earning public servants who get in the region of €150,000-a-year, spokesman Sean O Riordain said it was opposed to all pension cuts.

"We are against any further cuts for serving staff or pensioners," said the state retirees' spokesman, who is a former general secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants.

He accused the Government of failing to treat retirees with respect by not engaging with them in talks.


Mr O Riordain said the people he represents did not have a difficulty paying more money to keep the State afloat, but only if those on the same incomes in the private sector were asked to contribute too. "This is an element of taxation without representation," he said. "Usually, if you're going to take some tax off somebody, there's an opportunity to have discussions about that."

Mr O Riordain, who previously worked at the Taoiseach's office, said the average civil service pension is €19,000-a-year. However, many retirees with more than one pension with a combined value of €100,000 or above have avoided a 20pc tax introduced by the Government. This is because only single pensions valued above €100,000 are taxed at this rate.

Mr Hayes said cuts to the highest pensions were on the table and the only way an agreement could be forged with unions was if it was seen to be fair, and those who had the most gave the most.

Comment: Jerry Moriarty P31

Irish Independent

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