Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has revealed that the State pension age will not increase to 67 next year.
he pension age was one of the most divisive issues of the General Election campaign, with the increase due to take effect on January 1, 2021.
However, in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Independent, Mr Martin said that will not happen, under an agreement he has struck with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. "The programme for government will have to specify that," he said.
He also suggested the Green Party's demand to reduce carbon emissions by 7pc per year could be achieved by almost a third of the country continuing to work at home after the Covid-19 lockdown.
Mr Martin's comments come as a new Kantar opinion poll for the Sunday Independent shows two out of five people have seen their household income reduced due to the coronavirus crisis, while a further 35pc are expecting their finances to be impacted in the future.
Over half (53pc) said they were "very worried about the future" and just one in five believed the economy would bounce back quickly.
There is strong support for the caretaker government's response to the pandemic, with almost half of people saying they strongly approve of its performance and 29pc saying they somewhat approve.
However, as government formation talks continue this weekend, Mr Martin intervened to insist people should receive some form of a pension payment from 65 and said plans to increase the age to 67 next year will be abandoned.
"I think there's agreement on that and that's not happening," he said. "I think the programme for government will have to specify that and that's a matter for discussion between two parties."
During the election campaign, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael clashed over how to address the State pension age after Sinn Fein insisted it should be reduced to 65. Fine Gael insisted the age should increase next year, while Fianna Fail said it should be deferred pending a review.
Mr Martin said he still believes there should be transitionary State payment for those who retire at 65, but this needs to be worked on. There is no commitment on the pension age in the policy framework document agreed between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
Mr Martin and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are this weekend preparing a response to the Green Party's detailed list of demands for entering into government negotiations.
"If you could get 30pc of people remote working, that would have a dramatic impact on congestion and air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions," Mr Martin said.
The Fianna Fail leader compared his ambition to meet the Greens' demands with the US landing the first man on the moon.
"We need to be in a frame of mind that says 'what is possible', and go for it. I remember the famous quote from John F Kennedy - that famous speech he gave when he said 'we can get to the moon in a decade'. No one believed in that, at the time, but he did, and America did."
The Green Party will also propose an expansion of the controversial BusConnects scheme, large offshore wind farms and retrofitting 50,000 homes a year in coalition talks.
However, the party believes there will have to be a reduction in the national herd as part of plans to reduce greenhouse gas by 7pc every year - putting it on a collision course with rural TDs in Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
"We've always said there will have to be some reduction in the national herd, it's about diversification of farming," Green TD Roderic O'Gorman told the Sunday Independent. "But these cuts cannot be done without the farming community being involved."
The Greens also want a major bog-rewetting programme involving around 130,000 hectares of bogland being waterlogged.
Separately, Mr Martin revealed he intervened to stop St Patrick's Day celebrations during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. "I would have rung the Taoiseach on Patrick's Day, for example.
"I would have given my views privately. I didn't go publicly shouting from the rooftops even though my TDs wanted me to, but I felt that was the wrong approach."
Mr Martin also said he privately insisted that children returning from ski trips in northern Italy should not be allowed to return to school but his advice was ignored.
"I would have had a view that when people come back from northern Italy in the beginning that on a precautionary principle they should not have been allowed back into school."
Mr Martin added that he wants to "refine" social-distancing restrictions to let people travel further from their home, and suggested over-70s should be allowed to leave their homes for exercise.
"What is wrong with somebody who's a walker or a hillwalker who's going five miles on their own and meeting nobody in the wilderness?" he said.
"What is wrong with an over 70-year-old going outside for a walk with masks if necessary? I mean that's going on in other countries."