The Pension Coalition launched the beginning of a series of townhall meetings on Monday 19th June at Liberty Hall in Dublin. The purpose of the townhall meetings is to raise awareness of the inadequacy of the state pension and the need to raise the pension rate to 34% of average earnings. This figure of 34% was first proposed by the Government almost 25 years ago and was once again promised in 2018 in the Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023.
At the Dublin launch on Monday, representatives from each organisation in the Pension Coalition spoke about the inequalities and impoverished consequences for people relying on the state pension. The Coalition is made up of 5 organisations including the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, Age Action, Active Retirement Ireland (ARI), SIPTU and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.
Nat O’Connor of Age Action highlighted the gross underfunding in overall social welfare and pension systems in Ireland in comparison to other EU countries. Both Nat and SIPTU researcher Michael Taft dismissed the misconception of the Irish Pension system being a ‘Ticking Timebomb’, advising that there is plenty of funds to support a sufficient and more sustainable pension system.
Our own CEO Sue Shaw and ARI CEO, Maureen Kavanagh demonstrated the lived experience of the people who rely on the state pension and who are struggling every day just to keep the lights on. The two organisations recently conducted membership surveys in which they revealed staggering statistics on the effects of trying to balance the low pension rate against the high cost of living. We even heard from audience members who wanted to let people know just how difficult life has been since the rise in cost of living. Geraldine Murphy spoke about the heartache in having to decide between paying for much-needed vet bills for her dog or fixing a leak in her roof.
No one should have to make these kinds of sacrifices let alone a pensioner who has worked their entire life in order to have the opportunity to enjoy their retirement. This opportunity has been taken away from so many, with people now dreading the day they must retire. We have reached out to people like Geraldine to ask if they would come forward and speak about their experience of living on the state pension. We were truly shocked and saddened to hear that nearly every person was too ashamed and embarrassed of letting anyone know that they were struggling or that their only income came from the state pension. At what point did this sense of shame get attached to the state pension? And how can the Government sit back and let this continue to happen?
The Government needs to keep their promise of a state pension rate of 34% of average earnings to enable people to live at an acceptable standard.
We wish to thank everyone who attended the launch on Monday in Dublin. We would love to continue seeing this support at our next few events. Please see dates below of our upcoming townhall meetings that might be coming to a town near you: