Irish Examiner view: Time we had fair pension for all

Irish Examiner view: Time we had fair pension for all

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is in line for a €17,000-a-year pension rise.

The outrage over the announcement that former taoisigh are in line for a €17,000-a-year pension rise is not softened by the fact that some retired politicians have announced they will not take the rise. That 4,000 of the highest-paid civil servants will enjoy “pay restoration” adds to that anger, even though these groups suffered significant pay cuts under emergency measures. That these changes come just as myriad businesses struggle to sustain employment is hardly helpful either.

No fair-minded person will begrudge anyone a decent pay packet or pension if it is justified. Nevertheless, the anger at this announcement is fuelled by a subtext, one no government has done anything to confront, much less resolve.

As those pensions are restored, pensions often realised long before the person is 66 much less 67, private sector workers can only look on with a mixture of incredulity and anger. It is only a matter of time before the qualifying age for State pensions is increased, a measure that will have no impact on public sector workers but one with profound implications for many private-sector workers.

This double standard has been allowed to fester, indeed it has been exacerbated by the suggestion mandatory pension contributions might be managed by the pensions sector opening them to market forces unknown in public sector pension arrangements. This dichotomy must be addressed if this is ever to be a fair, equitable society.

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