Active Retirement Ireland joined SIPTU, Age Action, Irish Senior Citizen’s Parliament and the National Women’s Council to launch a Pension Promise campaign in Dublin yesterday(Monday, 19th June). The campaign is demanding that the government honours its promise of a state pension rate of 34% of average earnings and to halt the alarming number of people experiencing real pension poverty in Ireland.

Speaking at the campaign launch in Liberty Hall, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland, Maureen Kavanagh said: “90% of respondents from our recent survey on income and income supports called for the pension to be set at least 34% of the average median wage. Active Retirement Ireland says it is time for the government to honour its commitment on the state pension.”

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley, said: “Currently, the number of older people and those on fixed incomes that are living in what can only be described as pension poverty is growing at an alarming pace with tens of thousands of older people unable to keep on top of household bills or afford the basics. This is not acceptable in a country as wealthy as Ireland. SIPTU will not stand for this injustice.

“Retired and older people deserve secure adequate retirement incomes. It’s no more than they have earned after a lifetime of work and paying taxes. A state pension rate of 34% of average earnings means an increase of €53 a week in the state pension while taking the politics out of it once and for all. The reality is that retired and older people need a substantial increase in their incomes now to stave off devastating inflation rates and the shocking rise in the cost of living.”

Age Action, Senior Public Affairs and Policy Specialist, Nat O’Connor said: “Older people have told Age Action that they are finding it harder to make ends meet. While most older persons will be frugal about their spending and will turn to their own resources before seeking state help, many are telling us that they can no longer afford the essentials. People are worried about using up their savings and many of them could not afford an unexpected expense.

“The spending power of occupational and private pensions, and of savings, has declined due to inflation. There is likely to be a long-term scarring effect on the financial situation of all older persons due to the current period of inflation. Older people need the state pensions to be benchmarked to give them some measure of financial security in older age.

“As a first step towards benchmarking the state pensions, and a minimum for Budget 2024, Age Action is calling on the government to restore the spending power of the state pensions to what they were in 2020. This will require a €30/week increase in the core rate of the state pension.”

CEO of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, Sue Shaw said: “All too often we are contacted by older people struggling to pay bills or property tax on a house they struggled to afford and have no control over inflated house prices on which the tax is based. They fear other people realising how much they are struggling as somewhere along the way they have picked up the message that ‘poverty’ is their own fault and something they need to feel ashamed of. An adequate secure pension would go a long way to addressing some of this.”

National Women’s Council Director, Orla O’Connor said: “The state pension system is critical for women, who are more reliant on it than men for income in their older years, and depend on the state pension to cope with inflation and increases in the cost of living. The state must ensure that every older person has an adequate income to protect against poverty and can live with dignity and independence in their older years, and the Government must honour its commitment to a state pension rate of 34% of average earnings.

“Women are subjected to deep inequalities and discrimination in our pension system, as they are more likely to provide unpaid care and to be in low paid, part time and precarious jobs, and many do not have an occupational pension or access to the full state pension. Our current pension system reinforces rather than mitigates gender inequalities, and does not take into account additional barriers to the labour market faced by disabled women, carers, lone parents, Traveller women and migrant women.”

The Pension Promise Campaign launch in Dublin is followed by public meetings in:

  • Cork Monday 26 June, 11am–1.00pm in the Imperial Hotel
  • Galway Monday 3 July, 11am–1.00pm in the Galmont Hotel
  • Monaghan — Friday 7 July, 11am–1.00pm in the Westenra Hotel
  • Waterford Monday 10 July, 11am–1.00pm in the Imperial Hotel

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