Do you want to retire at 70? Readers share their stories

New rules will allow public-service employees to work after 65 – if they want to

Ready for more or time to retire?

Ready for more or time to retire?

 

Newly announced rules will allow public-service employees to continue working after the traditional retirement age of 65 – if they want to. The change is to counter Ireland’s “ageing society” trend, which in coming years will see the number of working people reduce and the number of retirees rise.

Although working beyond age 65 will be voluntary for State employees, those who do so will have to continue to make pension contributions, even if they already qualify for a full pension.

We asked Irish Times readers to reflect on how these changes affect their lives. A selection of the responses is published below.

Valerie Cox

I had to leave RTÉ last year at 65. I loved my job, but it’s very hard to know that one day you’re on call to race after a breaking story and the next? Well, you’re too old for your job.

I still have the interest and the energy to be a journalist so I’ve gone freelance. In the past year I’ve contributed to various media and I’ve written two books but I believe we should be allowed to work as long as we want and as long as we’re capable of doing the job!

Terry Murphy, Dublin

“Allowing” public sector workers to work to the age of 70 is a precursor to setting it as the standard age of retirement. This is a frightful prospect, unnecessary, anti-worker and fundamentally anti-young people.

Frightful, as it’s indicative of a trend toward making people work from adulthood to death.

Unnecessary, as the pensions crisis only exists because of tax injustice, in Ireland and globally. If the wealthy elite of Ireland and the world were forced to pay their fare share of tax, there would be no pension crisis.

Anti-worker, because it is only ordinary workers who will be burdened by this, as the wealthy will still have the means to slow down and retire at an earlier age.

And anti-youth, as it keeps better-quality, better-paying jobs in the hands of older generations for longer, meaning fewer opportunities for new and young workers.

Increasing pension ages is a direct attack on ordinary workers, and the lack of action on the subject from the trade unions has been criminal.

Eugene McSweeney, Kilkenny

I am a classic trained chef. I started my training in 1964 and I still love cooking. I am now 70 and I am still involved in the development of the now emerging cuisine in Ireland. I have so much to offer and I am willing to learn the new techniques that the modern chefs use and to pass on my knowledge. One never knows too much. I will retire when they close the lid on my coffin.

Terry, Dublin

I have two careers – one is in the public service and the second is a creative career which brings in little financial return. Both are challenging and rewarding.

The public service job is computer-based and sedentary. I have reduced my hours in part because of this unhealthy situation, and to get a better balance between careers. We are among the first batch of workers to be sitting at computers from our childhoods and all through our full working lives.

I’m in my 40s and will happily leave at 65, if not sooner. In an ideal world without money concerns, I believe we should be reducing hours to the point where we are half-time in our final working years. This would be gentler on the body, and help ease us into the next phase of life.

“I believe we should be allowed to work as long as we want and as long as we’re capable of doing the job”: Valerie Cox, pictured with Sean O Rourke at the launch of her book The Family Courts. Photograph: Brian McEvoy
'I believe we should be allowed to work as long as we want and as long as we’re capable of doing the job': Valerie Cox, pictured with Sean O Rourke at the launch of her book The Family Courts. Photograph: Brian McEvoy

Seamus, Limerick

I don’t want to retire at 70. I’d end up being taken out of work in a coffin. It’s easy for someone that works in a office to say they want to work on, but what about the people that do manual work?

Kate, Waterford

People should have the opportunity to work until 70 if they wish, but as a person who’s still 45-plus years from 70, how will this affect the age I will be able to retire? Will I still be able-bodied then?

Assuming that the retirement age in the next 50 years rises to 75 (for those now in their early 20s), the prospect of working until then seems absurd. I recognise that this is optional, and will be beneficial to some, but the potential for this to become a permanent feature of working life is a cause of unease for me.

Emma, Dublin

I’m delighted to hear this news. I’ve been lucky to have had a very varied career in the arts and in education, and at 57 I feel a long way from being burned out. I returned to full-time teaching at 50 and was finally made permanent a couple of years ago.

Now there’s plenty of time to consider a career break and still be back in time to work for a decent number of years (Buenos Aires, here I come!), or I could consider applying to take on a management role in the school.

One way or another, this opens up a whole world of opportunity (not forgetting that my mortgage won’t be paid off until I’m 70).

Paloma Dominguez,Dublin

It has been demonstrated that keeping working enhances the quality of life and health. So, I think, to get (and keep) a place in the workforce should be a priority for over-50s.

Cormac

I am well over 70, considered highly computer-literate and I work a full day without any difficulty. I see no reason why the working age of public-service employees cannot be extended to 70, except in the case of manual labourers, to make use of their long experience.

Conor Molloy, Dublin

I hope to be fit and healthy enough to still be working at 70, because that is the only way I can fund a pension. As the years go by, bodily wear and tear is becoming apparent, so it’s a hope. Having seen an 80-plus-year-old working a full manual labour week until their insurance was stopped, I think you should be allowed to work for as long or as short a time as you wish, so long as you are competent and safe. Unions and HR teams should be pushing to retain older staff, paid appropriate to their capacity, not an ever-increasing increment that forces companies to push oldies out the door.

Kieran Burns, Cork

This is a cynical ploy in the interest of the Government only. Its purpose is to deal with an age/recruitment bubble in the civil service which will leave a high proportion retiring between 2018 and 2022. It is a means to avoid paying pensions and retirement dues. It does nothing for those in the gap-year position where they have no entitlements.

The impact is that normal promotion to the very top will stagnate and you are left with old people who have run the organisations for a decade staying for another decade with no new blood or new thinking. Those on the gravy train will stay there. Disastrous for proper organisational change and progression.

Thank to all those who shared their stories.

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