Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader and Seanad Spokesperson on Social Protection, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said the huge cohort of women getting a raw deal under the punitive pension changes introduced in 2012, are being left in serious financial hardship as a consequence.
As it stands, over 80% of Irish women are not entitled to a full State Contributory Pension because they took time out of their working lives to raise a family or care for a relative and therefore lost important credit contributions and fail to meet the threshold for the full State pension.
They are therefore left in financial difficulty as a consequence.
Speaking on the issue, Senator Ardagh said, “The changes introduced in 2012 have had a disproportionate negative impact on women and represent the very real and present inequality in Ireland.
“The current pensions system fails to recognise the valuable contribution that these women have made to society and who have likely saved the State money as they were caring for others in the absence of any services made available by the Government.
“The increase in number of paid contributions needed to qualify for a State pension makes it more difficult for those without a full-time, long-term working history to qualify for the maximum weekly payment.
“Just 16% of women in Ireland receive a full state pension, the remainder of those eligible are being heavily penalised for choosing to take career breaks or time out of paid employment to have children or care for loved ones.
“The Social Protection Committee’s recent report on pensions recommends that these changes, specifically, the increase in the number of bands and the doubling of the minimum number of required contributions are ‘demonstrably inequitable.’
“We must move towards a social welfare system that is adequately fit for purpose and effectively provides a decent standard of living, without prejudice for all those who rely on it
"The gender pay gap is a matter which I and my colleagues in Fianna Fáil are are determined to see addressed,” concluded Senator Ardagh.