Sinn Féin pledges to pay State pension at age 65

Mary Lou McDonald says her party’s proposals are a measure against poverty for older people

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: “When a person comes to the age of 65 they should have the right to their State pension.” Photograph: Getty Image

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: “When a person comes to the age of 65 they should have the right to their State pension.” Photograph: Getty Image

 

Sinn Féin has pledged to keep the State pension age at 65, adding that it was “obscene and disrespectful” to force people who are older than that to work.

At present the qualifying age for the public pension is 66, having changed from 65 in 2014. This is set to increase again, via further seven-yearly updates, to 67 in 2021, and 68 in 2028.

Speaking at Cabra Community Centre as part of the party’s election campaign, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said her position was very clear that people should be entitled to their pension at age 65.

“Speaking to people here today, you hear their stories and they started work when they were 14 or 15, and many people spend their working lives in factories or building sites or in retail,” Ms McDonald said. “When a person comes to the age of 65, they should have the right to their State pension.

“For us the idea that somebody would be forced to continue working until they’re almost 70, or that people of 65 or 66 will be sent down to the dole queues, it’s absolutely disgraceful.”

Ms McDonald said the change in pension age would cost €368 million per year, and proposed to generate the funds through the taxation of banks and other profitable institutions.

“Things cost money. The answer to that is that you tax in a way that is fair, in a way that is progressive. For example, you change Government policy away from allowing banks, with their €2 billion in profits every year not to pay one cent in tax, and you tax those profits.”

She said her party’s proposals were a measure against poverty for older people.

“We shouldn’t be driving older people into poverty either because there is a considerable difference between the State pension and job seekers. For an individual on an annual basis it’s over €2,000 in the difference, for a couple it’s well over €3,000, approaching €3,500,” the Dublin-Central TD said.

“I don’t know if you saw the picture in one of the papers of that elderly woman eating her meal from a window ledge in the city. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. What are we at if we can’t respect our older people? If we can’t ensure that people have a basic income and a basic standard of living?”