(13 November) The STOP67 Coalition has expressed its disappointment at the failure of the Government to appoint sufficient members to the Pensions Commission who reflect the interests of those most affected by the proposed pension age increase and, in particular, organisations representing women and older people. The Coalition includes the National Women’s Council (NWC), SIPTU, Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland.
In a letter to An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, the Coalition said it was “shocked and surprised” that the Commission does not include the representatives of so many of those directly affected by the proposed pension age increase. This followed the announcement by the Government of the members of the Commission, which is due to assess whether the pension age should be increased to 67 years and to set out a future plan for the pension system.
In its letter, the Coalition reminded the Taoiseach that “the STOP67 campaign mounted an effective campaign during the general election campaign earlier this year against the proposed pension age increase to 67 from next January and for the establishment of a Stakeholder Forum to develop a sustainable and equitable pension system. However, we were shocked and surprised that the Commission does not include the representatives of so many of those directly affected by the proposed pension age increase.
“While the members of the Commission are eminently qualified across a range of specialties, it does not constitute the Stakeholder Forum for which we campaigned during the election and which won the support of so many voters across the country. The absence of civil society stakeholders representing current and imminent pensioners, including women and the most vulnerable workers who rely entirely on the state pension, is unacceptable and does not reflect the concerns expressed by so many during the election campaign and since.
“We are specifically asking you to consider the inclusion on the Commission of those advocating for women and older people i.e. NWCI, Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland, and for a fair and just system for those dependant solely on the State for a decent and sustainable income in their later years.”
Since the letter was sent to the Taoiseach on Friday 6th November, the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has defended her appointments to the Commission and has claimed that they are gender balanced as five out of nine members are women. However, the STOP 67 campaign contends that none of the women appointed are advocates for the rights of older women dependant on the State pension or of older people.
“We believe that this Commission will not be representative of those most affected by changes in the pension age, as it lacks the voice of women’s advocacy groups and older people. Without those voices the debate becomes about us but without us,” the Coalition said.