Employers should contribute to cost of retirement at 65, McDonald says

Sinn Féin leader says party’s proposal would cost €127 million

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has called for an increase in employers’ social insurance contributions over a series of budgets. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

Sinn Féin would increase employers’ social insurance contributions to reduce the pension age to 65, party leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.

Ahead of the publication of the Pension Commission report on the age at which people can retire on a State pension, Ms McDonald said her party’s plans would cost €127 million.

To help fund this, she proposed raising employers PRSI by 4 per cent over a number of budgets.

Asked if PRSI would be increased for the self-employed under her plans, Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin was “not proposing to do that at this stage”.

Ms McDonald said the age of 65 would not be compulsory and people would have a choice to continue working.

“We don’t believe in compulsory retirement for workers,” she said.

“We know people are living longer – fortunately more and more people enjoy good health, so the issue of choice is essential.”

Ms McDonald said the age of 65 for optional retirement would be the mark of a “progressive and civilised society and economy”.

Although the State pension would be universal and not means tested, the “very well off” would be subject to a wealth tax, she added.

The Sinn Féin leader also called for the Pension Commission report to be published.

Ms McDonald declined to rule out going into coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael after the next general election.

With opinion polls putting her party as potentially the largest in the State after the next election, she said the best outcome from the next election would be a government without the two current senior Coalition partners.

“That’s what we aim for,” she said.

However, Ms McDonald repeatedly stopped short of ruling out a coalition with either party if its opinion poll success if repeated at the ballot box.

“I can promise that any government I am part of or that we lead will pursue a very different agenda,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“It will not be about simply putting bums on seats or underwriting the same old agenda of the past.”

Speaking from her party’s think-in in central Dublin, Ms McDonald added: “If you look at us and Fine Gael, for example, the differences in approach, in policy, priorities are very, very wide.

“I think, for example, on looking after working people, families, cracking the housing crisis, we are very much in different places.”

On the vote of confidence in Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney over the Katherine Zappone controversy, Ms McDonald defended her party’s push for the vote as the Dáil returns on Wednesday.

“The issue here is around the entire culture of Irish politics for a century as exemplified by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael,” she said.

“They’ve run this place for 100 years, they believe that it is their right and entitlement, and they believe they are entitled to create a post for one of their friends, a former colleague.

“They got caught, they sought to cover up their tracks — this is a mess of their making not mine ,” said Ms McDonald.

“Are we prepared to look the other way and tolerate that kind of crony politics? No, is the short answer. I don’t believe there is a public appetite for that.”