Republic will have a million people above 65 within a decade, Seanad told

Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke says planning to meet challenge should begin in earnest

The Seanad heard that figures released recently showed that life expectancy had increased by about five years. File Photograph: Getty Images

The Seanad heard that figures released recently showed that life expectancy had increased by about five years. File Photograph: Getty Images

 

The number of people over 65 years old in the State will rise from 637,000 to more than one million within a decade, Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke has said.

“That is a huge challenge for us and we need to start planning for it in many different areas,” he added.

He said figures released recently showed that life expectancy had increased by about five years.

“This is evidence of the contribution being made by people who are in receipt of social welfare and are better able to care for themselves and of the contribution of the health services,” he added.

“While we might criticise the health services, this increase in life expectancy indicates that we must be getting something right.’’

Mr Burke was speaking during the Seanad debate on the Social Welfare Bill.

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said the Bill would have a positive impact on the living standards of pensioners, lone parents, people with disabilities, carers, jobseekers and others who had recourse to the social protection system.

Economic recovery

“For the second budget in a row, an increase of €5 per week in social welfare rates is being provided for,” Ms Doherty added.

“I hope that is clear evidence of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that all our citizens should benefit from the continuing economic recovery that the country is now experiencing.”

Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield said the department had admitted the welfare cheats campaign was a mistake.

“That is a welcome development,” he added. “Social welfare is about protecting those of us who are most at risk and most vulnerable.”

Mr Warfield said it was somewhat typical of previous governments and the current Government to try to erode those institutions.

He said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in particular, and the Government in general, had sought to morally justify social inequalities.

“Such behaviour facilitates a politics of division,” he added.