16,000 CIÉ pensions at risk due to underfunding of pension schemes – Munster
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has welcomed the decision of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport to call on Minister Shane Ross to allow trade unions to access independent legal advice on the matter of the insolvent CIÉ pension schemes.
A meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport which had been requested by Deputy Munster took place today. Despite receiving an invitation, Minister Ross was not in attendance, and in a response to the committee his office said that it would not be “appropriate” for the Minister to engage in discussions on the matter.
The Committee agreed today to call on the Minister to allow the trade unions access to independent legal advice on the matter, and that such advice will be funded by the CIÉ group.
Deputy Munster said:
“These pension funds are on a statutory footing and the Minister has a ministerial obligation to ensure that they remain solvent, as per the 1994 Agreement which is underpinned by statutory instruments.
“Concerns have been raised about the manner in which these pensions have been managed. There is a statutory obligation that these pensions are not to fall into insolvency, yet there have been issues around underfunding since 2009.
“The Minister needs to clarify when he was made aware of this fact, and what action he intends to take.
“Today, it was agreed by Committee members that the Minister must ensure that independent legal advice be made available to clarify matters for members of the pension scheme and their representatives.
“At today’s committee meeting, it was clear that too many serious and fundamental questions remain unanswered.
“Minister Shane Ross has been ducking and diving since he took office. He refused to show leadership during a series of industrial disputes, he has refused to admit that Dublin transport is in chaos, he hasn’t secured much in the way of additional funding for his department and now he is ignoring his role in the CIÉ pensions issue, despite being a key player.
“Shane Ross needs to understand his role as Minister for Transport. He cannot ignore difficult issues because he doesn’t particularly feel like dealing with them. 16,000 members of the pension funds are relying on him taking action to help resolve this matter.
“For a man who used to be all for accountability and transparency, he is doing nobody any favours by ignoring this. It is not going away.”