Thursday 18 October 2018

Men hit by pension anomaly risk 'being left behind', Dáil told

Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection Regina Doherty TD during a media announcement on pensions today at the Government Press Centre, Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection Regina Doherty TD during a media announcement on pensions today at the Government Press Centre, Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
John Downing

John Downing

Government moves to fix the pensions anomaly now risk discriminating against men hit by the same problem, the Dáil has been told.

The Government was also under pressure over the decision to re-open Stepaside Garda Station in Dublin. There were claims that it was a “political trophy” for local Independent Alliance TD and Transport Minister, Shane Ross.

Fianna Fáil welcomed Government efforts to fix the pensions problem which since 2012 has left some pensioners with €40 per week less.

The problem arose from a move in 2012 to calculate pensions on the basis of average yearly contributions over an entire working life. This hit people who were out of the workforce for various reasons and who lost contribution years.

These were mostly women raising children or else caring for sick relatives. But Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien said that men, who were out of work for long periods or were in training, or otherwise engaged, were also affected.

“Most of those affected by the pension anomaly are women. But are you going to leave another cohort of people behind by only addressing this issue in part?” Mr O’Brien asked.

The Dublin-Fingal TD called for a return to the pre-2012 pension regime.

Replying for the Government, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, said the problem was complex and the plan unveiled this week by Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty, was an honest effort to resolve it.

He dismissed suggestions of a return to pre-2012 pension rules which he said would cost an extra €70m on top of additional costs involved in the package unveiled this week.

Mr Coveney rejected claims by Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane on the re-opening of Stepaside Garda Station, which was again questioned by a Public Accounts Committee report on Tuesday.  The Tánaiste said it was a correct government decision.

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