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We're facing huge pensions 'black hole'

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Chairman Donal Geaney and Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy at the
launch of the National Pensions Reserve Fund in 2001

Chairman Donal Geaney and Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy at the launch of the National Pensions Reserve Fund in 2001

Chairman Donal Geaney and Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy at the launch of the National Pensions Reserve Fund in 2001

THERE seems to be a sense that the National Pension Reserve Fund is a wad of "free money" that we can raid at a time of our choosing.

In reality, every time we dip into it we are literally taking money from those who will retire in five, six or 10 years' time.

Pension liabilities of EU member states are part of the Stability & Growth pact and as a consequence of our totally unrealistic EU/IMF deal, we are now committed to bringing the country back into line with this pact by 2014. Therefore, any shortfall in pension liabilities will have to be taken into consideration in this context.

In comparison with other EU countries, the severity of Ireland's pensions savings gap in monetary terms per individual ranks in the top three.

This indicates the "black hole" that Ireland is facing, and any smash and grab of our Pension Reserve Fund -- even with the imprimatur of the EU Commission -- is simply storing up trouble for the future.

Furthermore, in the context of the recent CSO report on the contrasting lives of men and women, it is also worth noting that any pension deficit will hit women harder because their incomes are about 30pc lower than what men are paid, and they live longer, therefore increasing the probability of a generation of poorer older women.

It may be argued that in the short term we must use the fund, but there will be a price to pay.

Marian Harkin MEP

European Parliament

REGARDING the golden handshakes given to TDs, ministers and the Taoiseach if they decide not to present themselves again for election, it is a disgrace that such rules were made by themselves, for themselves.

They should not get pensions until they reach pension age. It seems to be one rule for them and another for other citizens. No wonder the country is broke.

Getting rid of these payments would save millions and we should be able to vote on it.

Are any people out there willing to come together and act immediately to have this situation altered? It is, obviously, the only way that there may be a chance of getting the rules changed by the public, acting for the public.

Name and address with editor.

Irish Independent