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Judgment day

• So, pensioners are the one group not to have suffered income loss in the recession, according to junior finance minister Brian Hayes (Irish Independent, September 17).

This statement could only be made in either ignorance or a cavalier attitude towards older people.

Pensioners were not, nor do they expect to be, exempted from carrying their fair share of the recession burden.

They lost the Christmas bonus, are liable for the Universal Social Charge, the household charge, and will be liable for the utilities charges.

Mr Hayes further stated that the Irish political system needed to overcome its inability to countenance budgetary cutbacks affecting older people because many of them "are very well-off".

Perhaps the "very well-off" older people Mr Hayes is referring to are those colleagues of his in the Oireachtas who are in receipt of pensions while still in the Dail and Seanad and can look forward to taxpayer-funded lucrative pensions and lump sums on retirement.

Or perhaps Mr Hayes is referring to Oireachtas members like himself, as a former teacher, who can avail of special Oireachtas leave from their teaching posts.

Remaining on teachers' Oireachtas leave ensures that TDs can retain their 'fallback career' while their teachers' pension entitlements continue to accrue, regardless of how long they are absent from the classroom.

These pensions grow in value because they are linked to current teachers' salaries, not the value at the time they ceased teaching.

As a former teacher, a current TD and minister, Mr Hayes has three pension entitlements to look forward to.

In what may have been a condescending afterthought, Mr Hayes complimented pensioners by referring to them as people with "common sense and judgment". Indeed.

At the next general election, I, as a pensioner, will be exercising whatever "common sense and judgment" I possess when I exercise my franchise.

Tom Cooper
Knocklyon, Dublin 16

Irish Independent