On Tuesday 19th April, Ministers Simon Coveney and Neale Richmond sat down with representatives from the various organisations working under the aegis of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament alongside CEO Sue Shaw and TD Brid Smith (who is presenting the Bill). The meeting took place in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The principle aim of this meeting was to outline the concerns and address the inaccuracies cited in response to this Bill as well as addressing the lack of progression on this bill to date.
We appreciated the generous time given by both Ministers and their Dept officials as they listened to the facts and experience of retired members. We also appreciated the comment by Minister Coveney of his recognition of the unfairness of the situation now faced by retired people. We understand his request for additional time as both Ministers were only just taking up their new briefs. However, we did express our concern at the lack of progress over the last eighteen months by all involved and requested a short time frame for the Minister to respond.
Prior to the meeting with the ministers, we held a press conference in Buswells Hotel where members of the Collective Network (under the aegis of the ISCP) Eileen Sweeney, John Nugent (NFPA) and Gerry Foley (ARPS) were able to speak of their own experience as well as the groups they each represent. Eileen Sweeney of the Retired Aviation Staff Association (RASA) explained that retired members were not permitted to be at the table during discussions between their employer and trade union, resulting in the loss of up to 22.5% of their overall pension. This is but one example of the unjust treatment of retired workers lending to ISCP member Bernie Smith’s slogan; RETIRED NOT EXPIRED.
The press conference was followed by a support rally of over 150 retired workers outside Leinster House to highlight the lack of development in support of this Bill. The supporters who were able to make the rally represented over 500,000 retired workers across Ireland who at present, have no say in what happens to their pension. We were glad to receive support of multiple TDs on the day who took the time to come out and stand with us.
Virgin Media News as well as multiple radio stations such as Newstalk FM were also there on the day to help call attention to this issue.