Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has said the Government is using a ‘sleight of hand’ to down play the actual number of people affected by 2012 pension band changes. The Sinn Féin TD said such an approach was pathetic and a rather crude effort to hide Ireland’s growing pension inequality.

Deputy Crowe made his comments following questions to the Department of Social Protection by Sinn Féin that showed more than 42,000 pensioners are now on a reduced State Pension due to critical access changes, as opposed to the reduced 35,000 number claimed by Government.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“A whopping 42,278 pensioners are now receiving a reduced State Pension as a direct result of the changes made to calculate pension bands by Labour’s former leader Joan Burton. These senior citizens – the bulk of whom are women – are being discriminated against because they either took time out of work to raise a family, or perhaps took a part-time job, and they don’t have the increased number of credits needed to get a full pension.

“This policy change was driven by Labour’s Joan Burton, when she was Minister for Social Protection, and their partners in Fine Gael in 2012. It was done with the full knowledge of the inevitable negative consequences that it would have for pensioners and women in particular.

“Aware of this growing disparity my party, Sinn Féin, has sought an exact breakdown of the number of men and women impacted by the 2012 changes, county by county. We found out that 10,514 of these pensioners now live in Dublin – 7,116 are women and 3,398 are men.

“With the Social Welfare Bill going before Cabinet shortly, senior citizens need the Social Protection Minister to publically detail what plans she has to fix this blatant discrimination. If she tries to somehow justify this inequality and doesn’t have a plan to urgently fix it, then Sinn Féin will seek to amend the legislation to ensure this unfair treatment of over 42,000 pensioners is finally brought to an end.”