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Women’s groups and older people unite for a fair State Pension

Published 28/08/2017


Age Action, the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Irish Countrywomen’s Association today urged people to back their campaign for a fair State Pension.

The three organisations are calling for changes introduced to the pension system in 2012 that drastically reduced the incomes of tens of thousands of pensioners to be reversed.

These changes, combined with the failure to backdate the Homemakers’ Scheme, have punished pensioners, predominantly women, who took time out of the workforce to care for their families.

More than 1,400 people have already signed the petition which all three organisations are distributing among their members.

Orla O'Connor of the National Women's Council of Ireland, Marie O'Toole of the Irish Countrywomen's Association and Lorraine Fitzsimons of Age Action supporting the campaign for a fair State Pension.
Orla O'Connor of the National Women's Council of Ireland, Marie O'Toole of the Irish Countrywomen's Association and Lorraine Fitzsimons of Age Action supporting the campaign for a fair State Pension.

Budget 2018 is crucial

Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), said: “Budget 2018 is a crucial opportunity to assess how our pensions policy impacts on women.

“It is important that the Budget addresses existing injustices in the pension system as well as ensuring pension policy in Ireland is based on the modern lives of women and men.

“To increase women’s access to pensions, and provide women with a decent income in their older years, it is critical that the Homemaker’s Scheme be applied retrospectively by the State immediately.”

Marie O’Toole, National President of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, said: “I very much welcome the opportunity to join with Age Action in calling on the Minister for Employment and Social Protection to reverse the 2012 State Pension cuts which are punishing countless thousands of pensioners, mostly women, for having left the workforce to care for their families. 

“Many of these women are life-long members of the ICA and we cannot underestimate their contribution in developing and improving the general quality of life for families and communities in Ireland which is at the heart of what the ICA stands for. They have a right to a fair and equitable State Pension.”   

Pension drastically cut

Lorraine Fitzsimons, Acting CEO of Age Action, said: “We need to challenge the myth that the State Pension was protected by the last government.

“It was drastically cut for tens of thousands of older people who are left with much smaller incomes in retirement.

“The current generation of older people get no benefit from the Homemakers’ Scheme, which applies only from 1994, and their pensions are reduced because they chose to care for their families.

“We’re encouraging everyone to support our campaign for a fair State Pension in Budget 2018.”

Age Action research

In February Age Action published research revealing that more than 35,000 pensioners have lost out because of the 2012 changes, a number which has certainly risen since.

Under the previous system, for example, a pensioner with an average of 20 contributions would be entitled to €228.70. After 2012, this dropped to €198.60, a cut of more of more than thirty euro each week.

The situation is made worse by the ‘averaging rule’ used by the Department of Social Protection to calculate the number of contributions made by a worker.

Under this system the number of PRSI contributions a worker has made is divided by the number of years between her first day of work and her retirement.

This means that someone who worked for a few months in the sixties and then went back to work in 2000 gets a far smaller pension than someone of the same age who just started work in 2000.


A Fair Society for All? Listening to the Voices of Older People

Often, inequalities experienced by older people reflect an accumulated disadvantage which can be as a result of factors such as socio-economic status, health, gender, location. How existing inequalities impact on us as we age is something we in Age Action explored through a panel discussion 10 September – A Fair Society For All? Listening to the Voice of Older People – in Croke Park, on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting 2019.

An audience of over 160 people, including members of Age Action and people working in the ageing sector, joined the conversatoin which included a panel disucssion moderated by the CEO Paddy Connolly. The discussion centred on a discussion paper, Equality for All - Older People for Equality, published by Age Action in advance.The  panel set the scene with inputs from Michael Taft, Economist and political economy columnist, Colette Bennett, Policy Analyst Social Justice Ireland, Deirdre Garvey, CEO The Wheel, Ailbhe Smith, Co-Director of Together for Yes.