Dublin Bay South byelection candidates back Siptu pension age campaign

Drive to halt increase in pension age backed by Labour, Sinn Féin, Green, Fianna Fáil, Social Democrats and PBP

 Deirdre Conroy of Fianna Fáil was one of a number of Dublin South Bay byelection candidates backing the  Stop67 campaign on Saturday. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Deirdre Conroy of Fianna Fáil was one of a number of Dublin South Bay byelection candidates backing the Stop67 campaign on Saturday. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Labour candidate Ivana Bacik has said she is “not confident at all” that she will top the poll in the upcoming byelection in Dublin Bay South.

The Senator said while she was “encouraged” by a recent Irish Times opinion poll, many voters are still undecided ahead of the byelection on Thursday.

Fine Gael candidate James Geoghegan has the support of 27 per cent of voters in the constituency when undecided voters are excluded, while Ms Bacik is at 22 per cent, according to a special Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll in the constituency, published earlier this week.

“[The poll] is really reflective of what we’re hearing on the ground which is great support, great positivity, a mood for change, a desire to have a more balanced representation for the constituency,” Ms Bacik said on Saturday.

“We were very encouraged by it but obviously there’s quite a few days to go and we’re working really hard for every vote.

“I’m a veteran of so many referendum campaigns that I know that for many people they don’t make up their minds until the last few days so you can’t really rely on anything or any polls until the final poll, the actual vote.”

Ms Bacik, along with byelection candidates Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin), Claire Byrne (Green Party), Deirdre Conroy (Fianna Fáil), Sarah Durcan (Social Democrats) and Brigid Purcell (People Before Profit) attended Siptu’s Stop 67 campaign on Saturday, which is aimed at halting any increase in the State pension age of 66.

Ms Boylan, who registered 13 per cent support in the poll, said that figure was not “reflective of what we’re getting on the doors”.

“We’re under no illusion, it’s a David and Goliath battle, this constituency. It’s a Fine Gael seat but it will come down to turnout on the day. We’re keeping positive,” she said.

The byelection is taking place to fill the seat left vacant following the departure of former minister for housing Eoghan Murphy of Fine Gael.

Ms Boylan said: “The reaction we’re getting on the doors is that people voted for change in the general election.

“They feel that they haven’t got the change that they actually voted for and we’re saying the only way you’re going to send the strongest possible message to the Government that you want change and you want a change of direction is by voting for a Sinn Féin candidate in myself.”

The former MEP said the State pension age was “still an issue” for many Dublin Bay South constituents.

Pádraig Peyton, Siptu’s honorary president, said the State pension age played a very important role in the 2020 general election and “is still one of the priorities of the public”. A increase in the pension age to 67 planned for this year was postponed after it became a significant factor in the election campaign.

“We want the pension age to remain at 66 and the transition pension to be at the same rate as the old age pension and that to kick in at 65, that is our primary aim,” he said.

“We also have an issue with mandatory retirement, in this day and age a lot of people can’t afford to retire at 65 yet in the private sector a lot of companies have in their contracts that you must retire at 65 even though the pension age isn’t until 66.

“We want to have it that there is no mandatory retirement, that people can work on if they want. We’re not asking that they get the pension and work on but we’re asking that people have the opportunity to work on if they want.”