Controversial changes to the pension qualification age, raising it to 67 years next December, are now expected to go ahead - despite a range of General Election promises this would not happen.
As government formation talks resume today it has emerged that elements in all the three parties believe it will not be possible to reverse plans to raise the pension qualification-age.
Huge additional costs of €2.2bn to the welfare bill due to the coronavirus pandemic are cited as the main reasons for an about-turn on election promises of varying degrees by the Green Party, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
Figures presented to the government-formation talks on Saturday outlined a stark situation as the negotiators were briefed by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.
A final decision was postponed pending updated figures on payments to be presented to the talks later this week. However, they will certainly show the situation is even more grave.
All three parties engaged in the government formation talks also hope they can depend on resolving two big pension rule anomalies to take the political sting out of the hotly contested issue.
These include legislation which will outlaw forcing people to retire at 65, and the introduction of proper interim welfare payments which are planned to bridge the 65 to 67 age-gap for those who do opt for their existing right to retire.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party will also depend upon the view that pensioners' varied circumstances will not lead to a unified and strong protest provoking any political backlash against them.
But the trade unions, backed by Sinn Féin, are bound to take up the issue as they did last January as the election campaign kicked off.
The trade union Siptu led a group of social organisations that opposed the long-standing plan to increase the pension age to 67 from January 1, 2021 and to 68 by 2028. Its "Stop 67" campaign soon became a political focus of the election campaign.
Sinn Féin promised to pay the full pension at 65 years of age. That move prompted accusations of "recklessness" from both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, who pointed to the "pension timebomb" and a general trend for old pension qualification ages to increase across the world.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin promised to outlaw obligatory retirement at 65 and said he wanted to see a full review of the various anomalies and other issues.
Fine Gael promised to restore an interim pension for those choosing to retire and a further review.
The Green Party also endorsed "a pause" in increasing the pension and the calling of a major discussion forum to examine all the issues around it. The Greens said current data on the issue was inadequate.
Ironically, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party agreed to the pension age increase with a government decision during their 2007-2011 coalition.
Fine Gael and Labour in coalition later legislated for this in 2011.
The issue remained dormant for several years until the deadline for change loomed into view this past January and Siptu took it up.
However, the cost to the economy of the coronavirus lockdown has since completely changed things.
The ESRI expects the country to run a deficit of €27bn this year.