Sunday 18 March 2018

Martin refused three opportunities to call for €5 weekly pension hike

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Tony Gavin
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Tony Gavin
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin was asked three times by the Sunday Independent if he would force Fine Gael to increase the old-age pension by €5 a week in the Budget.

Each time Mr Martin refused to say he would seek to have the pension raised in his negotiations with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

When first asked whether he wanted to increase the pension by €5 he said: "We are saying there are a number of areas: we would like to see people in the disability sector looked after, the disability top- up payment, and carers. Because in our view, the big time bomb is demographics."

When asked a second time if he would push for a €5 pension hike, he said: "Well, we are not saying yea or nay to that."

It was then put to him that it seemed a pension increase was not a priority: "I wouldn't say it's not a priority. Disability and carers would be a priority for us this year and we will want pensioners looked after but again it depends on the availability of what's there."

Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he "absolutely" intended to increase the pension, when quizzed on the issue at a media briefing.

"We're working towards increasing the pension in the next Budget but I can't yet make any specific commitments in relation to the Budget because it just hasn't been agreed yet," he said.

The Sunday Independent ran a story last week noting that the different emphasis of the two party leaders, noting that it put them on a collision course ahead of budget talks.

The story also noted Mr Martin's stance on pension increases risked causing turmoil in Fianna Fail.

After his comments were published beside those of the Taoiseach, Mr Martin sought to limit the potential damage by releasing a statement which falsely claimed this newspaper reported a 'war of words' between the him and the Taoiseach.

The Sunday Independent subsequently stood over its story as published that it put them on a collision course for another Budget war of words.

Sunday Independent

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