183. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she and her predecessors have taken to address the concerns of members of an association (details supplied) about their pensions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19231/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 to 185, inclusive, together.
All dealings and decisions made by corporate or individual trustees of an occupational pension scheme are governed by legislation and enforced through the supervision of the Pensions Authority. The duties of a pension scheme trustee include administering a scheme in trust in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and rules. Consequent...

184. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is satisfied that the trustees of a pension scheme (details supplied) have acted in the best interest of all beneficiaries and in particular the best interests of an association; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19232/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 to 185, inclusive, together.
All dealings and decisions made by corporate or individual trustees of an occupational pension scheme are governed by legislation and enforced through the supervision of the Pensions Authority. The duties of a pension scheme trustee include administering a scheme in trust in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and rules. Consequent...

185. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she or her predecessors have taken to address the concerns of an association (details supplied) that is of the view that decisions were taken without its input in 2010 in relation to its pension scheme which closed off the defined benefit pension and replaced it with a defined contribution scheme and changed rules and governance arrangements; the efforts that have been made to resolve these matters; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19233/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 to 185, inclusive, together.
All dealings and decisions made by corporate or individual trustees of an occupational pension scheme are governed by legislation and enforced through the supervision of the Pensions Authority. The duties of a pension scheme trustee include administering a scheme in trust in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and rules. Consequent...

186. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if safeguards will be put in place to enable pensioners have a greater say in the governance of their pension scheme in view of the fact that many defined benefit pension schemes are closed to new members and that pensioners constitute a growing percentage of scheme memberships; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19234/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defined Benefit Pension Schemes)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The governance of an individual pension scheme is generally a matter for the scheme trustees. Scheme trustees have duties and responsibilities under trust law, under other relevant legislation and under the Pensions Act, 1990, as amended. The duties of pension scheme trustees include administering the trust in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and rules. It is important to note that pension sc...

187. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to introduce measures to specifically protect retired members of defined benefit pension schemes particularly in view of the fact that pensioner groups only have one month to appeal the decision of the pension fund trustees to make an application for a section 50 order to the Pensions Authority for reduction in pension benefits to the courts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19235/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defined Benefit Pension Schemes)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): If the funding of a pension scheme is not sufficient to satisfy the Funding Standard, the trustees may apply to the Pensions Authority for a direction under section 50 of the Pensions Act 1990. Under such an order accrued benefits relating to members’ past service can be reduced. Prior to making an application to the Pensions Authority, trustees must have undertaken a comprehensive review of the scheme with a view ...

188. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to amend section 81E of the Pensions Act 1990 to abolish the six to 12 month time bar in which pensioners cannot pursue a complaint once they have retired longer than 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19236/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Pensions Legislation)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Section 81E of the Pensions Act 1990 refers to the forum for seeking redress in relation to equal pension treatment in occupational benefits schemes. The time limit provisions contained in Section 81E relating to equal pension treatment and redress are derived from overarching legislative provisions pertaining to access to industrial relations machinery in Ireland. Under that legislation access to industrial relatio...

189. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on whether legislation is adequate to ensure that trustees of pension schemes act in the best interests of all beneficiaries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19237/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Pensions Legislation)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): All dealings and decisions made by corporate or individual trustees of an occupational pension scheme are governed by legislation and enforced through the supervision of the Pensions Authority. The Pensions Act 1990, together with the trust deed and scheme rules sets out the trustees’ duties and responsibilities. Under this Act, trustees of pension schemes have the main responsibility for the administration of sche...

408. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to outline her plans to allow old age pensioners who avail of the free travel scheme and who travel on trains to receive a return ticket rather than queuing for a ticket each way; if there would be a cost to permitting return tickets to be allowed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18857/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Free Travel Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Customers who wish to avail of free travel must have their free travel pass with them when travelling. Customers must present their pass at the ticket desk in the train station in order to be issued with their free rail ticket when travelling on Iarnród Éireann mainline, Dart and Outer Suburban services. Where a customer is making a return journey on the same day they will receive a day return ticket. In all other ...

575. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the role her Department has in outlining progress on social inclusion under the National Reform Programme 2017. (Question 17684/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - National Reform Programme)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My Department is responsible for the management and monitoring of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016 (NAPinclusion) and the update which covers the period 2015-2017. The Plan identifies a wide range of targeted actions and interventions to achieve the overall objective of reducing consistent poverty. 
The headline target, Ireland’s National Social Target for Poverty Reduction (NSTPR) is to reduc...

590. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is considering extending the fuel allowance since the extreme cold spell started. (Question 11335/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Fuel Allowance Payments)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The fuel allowance is a payment of €22.50 per week for 27 weeks from October to April, to over 338,000 low income households, at an estimated cost of €227 million in 2018. The purpose of this payment is to assist these households with their energy costs. The allowance represents a contribution towards the energy costs of a household. It is not intended to meet those costs in full. Only one allowance is paid per househ...

277. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she, her officials or advisers have had meetings with the strategic communication unit since it was set up; the issues that were discussed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6532/18 asked on 08 Feb 2018 - Strategic Communications Unit)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Secretary General of the Department met with the head of the Strategic Communications Unit in August at the Department’s headquarters at Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1. This meeting was an introduction to and discussion on the future role of the unit. The Minister, the Secretary General, the Minister’s advisor Gerry Mullins and Assistant Secretary Helen Faughnan met with John Concannon and Eugene Fa...