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No More Crocodile Tears, It’s Time For The Government To Step Up On INM Pensions.

Social Democrats TD, Róisín Shortall, has again called on the Government to protect defined benefit pensioners, including those in INM, by accepting an amendment to the 2016 Social Welfare Bill, which is currently going through the Seanad. Deputy Shortall said;

“To be frank, the Government’s response to the current INM pension crisis, and the wider issue of underfunded defined benefit pension schemes, has been negligent. Over the past few days we have seen Minister Varadkar and his Fine Gael colleagues wringing their hands and trying to distance themselves from this issue rather than moving to amend the 1990 Pensions Act, and providing certainty for pensioners.”

“It is particularly frustrating as this situation was completely avoidable. Over the past few years myself and a number of other TDs have tabled amendments to the Social Welfare and Pensions Bills which would have avoided this situation arising in the first place. These amendments would have changed the law to ensure that solvent companies cannot just walk away from their pension commitments.  Yet, on each occasion the Fine Gael led Government decided to reject the amendment.”

“Senator Alice Mary Higgins has now resubmitted this amendment to the Social Welfare Bill 2016, and it is up to the Government to accept this amendment or table one of their own. It is a straightforward amendment and would provide the same sort of protection that is available in the UK and other jurisdictions. It is completely within the Minister’s gift to expand the scope of this bill to include pensions, as the last Government did with the 2014 Social Welfare and Pensions Act.”

“Given the pantomime of concern we’ve seen from members of the Government in the last few days, letting this opportunity pass them by would the height of hypocrisy. There would appear to be majority cross party support for this amendment, and if it was passed by the Seanad it could be endorsed by the Dáil within days and become law by Christmas.  Anything less will leave the INM pensioners high and dry, and just kick the can down the road until the next pension scheme in crisis comes to light.”