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State pension age should not go beyond 66, PRSI increase may be needed – Taoiseach

Cate McCurry, PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has told party members that he does not believe the State pension age should go beyond 66.

However, he said PRSI increases could be needed to ensure the pension age is not increased.

Speaking following a special parliamentary party meeting, Mr Martin said there is a "clear groundswell" of support in the party to retain the pension age.

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Mr Martin said there was a good discussion on pensions and that members of the parliament party wanted clarity on Fianna Fáil’s position.

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"I made the point that we didn’t see the age going beyond 66 but that would then have implications for the PRSI increases in the medium term.

"So there has to be give and take, either in respect of PRSI or the age question, we have to work with our coalition parties on finalising that whole area.

"But there was a clear groundswell within the parliamentary party that they wanted pension age retained at 66 but then that has implications for the PRSI and that was the context."

Recommendations

"The first thing government parties will need is ongoing consideration of the Pensions Commission’s recommendations, and indeed the recommendations the Oireachtas committee also made in relation to that report."

The recommendation made by the commission was that the pension age should gradually increase to 67 before 2031, and then 68 by 2039.

The Report of the Commission on Pensions put forward proposals in order to address the sustainability of the state pension system and the Social Insurance Fund (SIF).

The Pensions Commission proposed to increase the State pension age by three months every year from 2028.

In a report published in February, the Social Protection Committee recommended maintaining the qualifying age for the state pension at 66, and to introduce legislation to ban mandatory retirement clauses in employee contracts.

Mr Martin said his party will consider both recommendations.

"We don’t have a specific timeline just yet. These are weighty issues," he added.

Responding to the Taoiseach's remarks, Sinn Féin TD Louise O'Reilly said workers will still in the dark as to the pension age.

Although Ms O'Reilly welcomed the "shift in position" she said it "does not go far enough".

"[Mr Martin's] partners in coalition Fine Gael have previously supported raising the pension age to 68, so workers are understandably left wondering who is in charge, and what exactly the government is proposing."

Ms O'Reilly called on the Government "to clarify its position immediately", adding: "Sinn Féin believes that workers should have the right to their state pension rate at 65. After a lifetime of work, that is what they deserve."

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