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Bill should focus on protecting the pensioners both of today and tomorrow – Ó Snodaigh

26 November, 2013 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Responding to the publication of the Social Welfare and Pensions (No.2) Bill 2013 Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that the legislation should be fairer and should focus on protecting the pensioners of both today and tomorrow.
Speaking from Leinster House today, Deputy Ó Snodaigh stated:
"The Pensions (Amendment) Bill 2013 would be an improvement on the current situation which can leave workers who have accrued future pension entitlements with little or nothing. But it still doesn't get the balance right. Fundamental inequities are left unaddressed. In order to protect high-end gold plated pensions, workers approaching retirement age will remain woefully unprotected.
“This should not be about protecting pensioners versus protecting contributors who have yet to retire. It should be about protecting the pensioners of both today and tomorrow. The Bill is not as far as it could have been.
“Sinn Féin has developed an alternative priority order that is grounded in the principle of fairness. It is not credible to couch everything in terms of ‘having to make tough decisions.’ This should be about making the fair decision. The priority order proposed in the Bill doesn’t go fair enough in terms of fostering the level of social solidarity required and as such it could serve to turn pensioners against active contributors.
“The priority order in the Bill is short-sighted and it is a product of the type of thinking that created the fissures and fragilities in the Celtic Tiger economy – the fallout from which we are all currently suffering.
“In contrast, the priority order offered by Sinn Féin takes a long-term perspective. Our priority is to protect those on low pensions and those with a low pension expectation.
“Recognising that some scheme members are not eligible for the State Pension (Contributory) our proposal sets out to ensure a minimum safety net for all scheme members through firstly purchasing the requisite contributions record for a state pension for all scheme members who do not have such a record. In the event of a pension scheme wind-up that is priority no. 1 in our distribution order.
“Furthermore, we are calling on the Minister to publish the finding of the review of the wind-up priority, which she commissioned Mercer to undertake at the end of 2012.
“The purpose of that review was to determine to what extent the existing pensioner priority should be revised to provide for a different approach to the distribution of assets in the wind-up of an under-funded pension scheme. This is the issue that this very Bill seeks to address.
“If she does not publish this review, paid for by the taxpayer, I think people will probably infer that the government’s Bill is contrary to the advice they received.”

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