Wednesday 16 October 2019

Government warned 'pension raid plans' are illegal under the Constitution

'A dramatic cut to pensions would leave plans in tatters' - Howlin

Labour leader Brendan Howlin Picture: Frank McGrath
Labour leader Brendan Howlin Picture: Frank McGrath
John Downing

John Downing

Government moves to target 300,000 public service workers’ pensions just as they are heading for retirement are in breach of the Constitution, the Dáil has been told.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin pointed to a report in today’s Irish Independent which notes that big changes on how public service pensions are calculated will be part of upcoming talks on public pay.

Mr Howlin said a change to the pension regime for new recruits would be fair. But people coming up to pension age – many of whom had worked up to 40 years in the public service – faced big pension cuts which were illegal and unfair.

The former Public Expenditure Minister said the average public service pension was €20,000 per year. That was far from a "gold-plated pension" as these were sometimes described.

He said many public service workers had made retirement plans based on an expected pension.

"A dramatic cut to their pensions would leave those plans in tatters," Mr Howlin said.

He added that the courts had ruled that pension rights had the same status as property rights under the Constitution.

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said the Fine Gael party in government had always respected public servants’ work. He said a report of the special Commission on Public Pay was now awaited.

Mr Kenny said the Government had said very little publicly on the issue of public pensions. He said the Public Expenditure Minister had last December said that public pensions had increased in value in recent years and must form part of upcoming public pay talks.

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