People who retire at the age of 65 should have their right to a full pension rate restored, Galway TD Claire Kerrane said.
Deputy Kerrance, and fellow Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly brought a private members motion to the Dáil this week calling on the government to restore the full pension rate to people who retire at 65, and also protect workers from mandatory retirement at the same age.
“These workers have worked hard all their lives, paid their taxes, paid into the system and who deserve their pension at the full rate,” Claire Kerrane said.
Currently, the age for to qualify for the state pension of €248.30 is 66 years old, and for the year in between, people who retire at 65 have to go on Jobseekers benefit, or a new payment of €203 a week introduced this year.
But even this newly created transitional payment still leaves people who retire at 65, many of whom had no choice in the matter, approximately €2,300 a year worse off.
Sinn Féin called on the government to guarantee a State Pension transition payment that matches the level of the pension payent.
Speaking in favour of the motion in the Dáil this week, Claire Kerrane highlight the cost of living in Ireland, which is significantly higher than the majority of EU countries.
“A EUROSTAT report was issued today showing that prices in Ireland for goods and services are the joint second highest in Europe and were 36% higher than the average across the EU last year.”
“We are one of the most expensive countries in Europe for food. Utility bills are 78% more expensive than the EU average. We really should leave the argument in relation to how adequate our rates are right there.”
Minister of State Damien English criticised Sinn Féin for condemning the level of payment in the Republic, while in Northern Ireland, where they are part of the government, the contributory State pension comes to £175, or about €195.
“Repeatedly, we in the South are expected to judge Sinn Féin on what they say they would do if they were in government in the South, not what they actually do when they are in government in the North.”
The motion brought forward by deputies Kerrane and O’Reill also called for the state to ban any mandatory retirement at the age of 65.
“This is about choice- workers who wish to work beyond the age of 65 must be allowed to do so,” Claire Kerrane said.
“Sinn Féin’s motion gives workers the choice at 65 to continue to work or to retire on the full pension rate, so that workers can decide. To force workers to retire at 65 is unjust.”