For many of us, as parents or Grandparents we are all too familiar with that long road trip, where your passengers of a certain age, are continuously asking “are we there yet”. Our road trip as retired members of An Garda Siochana and retired Public Servants, has now been on-going for almost a decade, and we too are asking “are we there yet”. Where is our destination, we have set the Satnav “Full restoration of our Pensions”, as our final stop. The system is telling us, there are many roadblocks still in place, and many alternative routes are being suggested. The major road block still in place is Financial Emergency Provisions legislation (FEMPI). We are told this roadblock is in the Public Interest. So if something is in the Public Interest then as reasonable people we tend to accept these things, and are reasonable in our stance and we tend to be patient, as after all the public interest supersedes all other matters. However, we have been told by Government, this emergency is now over, we are doing exceptionally well as a nation, and we are to be complemented for our forbearance, and more importantly for our contributions to the State coffers, while this financial emergency, was in place. Then the Alert button is flashing which is telling us the roadblocks must remain in place, as the path ahead is not actually clear. To establish why the road ahead is not clear, despite all the advice that the emergency has passed, we establish a Commission to establish the facts! This Commission was called the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC). Their work has concluded, so the real work of negotiating a new National Pay and Pension regime for the next three years has commenced, but no Pension group or Association or Society can directly speak or make representations to this forum. When they have concluded this important work, they will call us back in, and depending on what the workers in the Public Sector agree, then they will try and build a revised restoration path for all Public Sector retirees. In the meantime, as all of this will take a number of months to finalise, we will renew before both Houses of the Oireachtas this draconian legislation to keep the many Financial Emergency provisions in place. After all we realise despite all of this praise, these platitudes are mere lip service. Our final restoration destination leading into these National agreements talks, was January 2022. The early indications, by way of crumbs off the table is that this time span will be abridged. In terms of what that means, we are unsure. The election process to put in place a new Taoiseach is not helping our cause. Many in Government are clearly more focused on this, and the positions they will or not hold in the next cabinet is their primary objective. So to reiterate “are we there yet”, then the answer is clearly NO.
Editorial Comment – Summer issue of Siochain 2017
January 18th, 2021