Tuesday 25 September 2018

Hundreds attend protest at Leinster House over pension anomaly

Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty, addressed the crowd and said she is trying to fix the situation

18/01/2018 (L to R) Colette Pearson from Swords Barbara Iriain from Santry Esther Walsh from Pearse St during a Pension Protest at Leinster House on kildare Street, Dublin. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins
18/01/2018 (L to R) Colette Pearson from Swords Barbara Iriain from Santry Esther Walsh from Pearse St during a Pension Protest at Leinster House on kildare Street, Dublin. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins

Ryan Nugent

HUNDREDS of pensioners turned up outside Leinster House to voice their disgust at pension changes which have left them up to €30 a week out of pocket.

The protesters - who have lost out in receiving their full State pension due to changes introduced in 2012, were addressed by Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty, who said she is trying to fix the situation.

Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty is interviewed by journalists as Pauline MacMahon, from Loughlinstown looks on at the pensions anomaly protest outside Leinster House in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty is interviewed by journalists as Pauline MacMahon, from Loughlinstown looks on at the pensions anomaly protest outside Leinster House in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

Ms Doherty thanked the protesters for coming and added she would do her "very, very best to fix this situation that affects you".

The Minister has a proposal to go to cabinet but would not go into detail as to what this would entail.

"The only assurance I can give is that we've done extensive work to address and report on the issue and I have a proposal going to cabinet - the outcome of that meeting, I obviously would be ambitious and hopeful, but I can't determine the outcome of that meeting," she said.

"The only reassurance I can give people is that I will fight very, very hard to make sure we address the anomaly as I have said on numerous occasions between now and when the issue became very, very prevalent after the budget in 2017 negotiations."

Ms Doherty said she can't guarantee anything "but I'm going to try".

"I would hope that the report that I'm going to give shows a comprehensive case and I'm going to do my absolute best to fix it, this particular anomaly that affects 42,000 men and women," she said.

"The only reason I can't share the details (on the proposal) is that I would lose any credibilty around the cabinet table and I want to bring my cabinet colleagues with me," she added.

Many female pensioners believe they are being punished for raising their children.

Pensioner, Jenny Brandon (66) from Delgany said she had expected a full State pension upon her retirement.

Ms Brandon told Independent.ie that she is €30 down every week.

She said she gave up her job in 1974 to raise her children.

"There was no childcare at the time, there were no creches so I had to stay at home (with the children)," she explained.

Her friend, Zephra Johnson (66) from Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow said that as a nurse she had to leave work in the 1970s due to a marriage ban on women working for the State.

"I subsequently reared four children, started back into the workforce in 1995, worked until 2016. So I worked 21 years post-1995," she said.

"I get no recognition for having to leave work in the 1970s, even though it wasn't my fault.

"There was no childcare then anyway so you had to rear your own children and there's no recognition of that," she added.

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