Letter to Paschal Donohue re pension increase delay

To: Minister Paschal Donohue, Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform

cc: Minister Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
cc: Ms. Paula Mullooly – Chair of the Trustees, RTÉSA

Date: June 9th, 2023

Dear Minister,

I am writing to you about the application for a pension increase submitted to you some time ago by the RTÉ Superannuation Scheme (RTÉSA). The submission was made in April 2022. Six months have passed since all questions were answered and since then, silence. I understand that Minister Catherine Martin has approved of the application.

What is the current status of this application? There is no need for me to emphasise just how badly needed this pension increase is by an increasingly elderly and financially stressed body of retired staff who are not in receipt of state pensions. Needless to say, they do not receive Christmas bonuses etc.

Some time ago, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform requested that the RTÉSA alter their investment policy to de-risk it and this requirement has now been met. The Scheme exists for one purpose; to provide a proper, reasonable income for retired staff without calling on public funds.
It is imperative that such a Scheme ensures that it is capable of securely funding reasonable increases in pensions on a regular basis in keeping with the cost of living and in this regard, the Scheme has been shown to be very well managed and equal to the task.

However, what is lacking in this otherwise well-ordered system, is the matter of Ministerial permission – the other side of the implicit bargain. It is simply wrong that when permission is sought for modest increases, the request disappears into a totally opaque bureaucracy which knows no time limits and is seemingly immune to the needs of a singularly vulnerable constituency. (Eight of our members have died in the past two months.)

We accept that legally, decisions regarding our pension increases must go to Government for approval. What is not acceptable, however, is that such decisions are taking many months and indeed years. There are few problems in life that require over a year to ponder. There will be recurring applications over the coming years for further pension increases. If there is not a clear and reasonable timetable for Ministerial authorisation, the problem will continue to escalate.

This delay is totally unacceptable and perhaps it is time to remind those responsible for making decisions of the undertakings implicit in their own Civil Service Code.

Standards Underpinning Service Delivery-

8.1 Civil servants should:
• ensure that members of the public have their affairs dealt with sympathetically, efficiently and promptly;

Yours Sincerely,

Stephanie Fitzpatrick
(RTÉ Retired Staff Association)