Forced retirement is "entirely stupid", says Mary O'Rourke

A new bill to abolish the age limit is debated in the Dáil today....

Forced retirement is "entirely stupid", says Mary O'Rourke

Mary O'Rourke wears purple sunglasses at a photocall, at the National Library, Dublin. Picture by Julien Behal PA Archive/PA Images

Former Fianna Fáil deputy leader Mary O'Rourke has called mandatory retirement "entirely stupid" as TDs are being urged to scrap the rule.

A new bill to change employment law is being introduced into the Dáil by Sinn Féin's social protection spokesperson John Brady and is set to be debated today.

It includes a number of exemptions for those who work in security-related related employment, such as An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.

O'Rourke, who has served as Minister for Education, Minister for Health and Minister for Public Enterprise, said:

"I think this is a very important bill. People are living longer, they're in better health. And to say to someone 'you gotta go because you are the age it is laid down in law you must leave [at]'? I think that is entirely stupid."

The bill arrives as Age Action Ireland reveals that there are more 65-year-olds on jobseeker's benefit than at any other age.

The charity for ageing and older people has said that many people in forced retirement have no choice but to go on the dole for 12 months while waiting to receive their state pension at 66.

It has argued that it amount to age discrimination and is backing TDs to abolish the mandatory retirement clauses.

Picture by Julien Behal PA Archive/PA Images

Wicklow TD John Brady said of his Employment Equality (Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age) Bill:

"This is a bill about choice for older workers when it comes to their retirement. Instead, of being obliged to retire without any choice whatsoever at 65 or 66 years old, workers will be able to decide if they would like to retire immediately or continue working.

"This bill will also address two major pension issues. It will end the current practice of those forced to sign on for jobseeker's payments at 65 for one year until they are eligible for the state pension at 66. It will give people who have insufficient contributions for the state pension an opportunity to continue at work to make up the additional contributions to avoid a reduced pension if they so wish.

“Last month, Minister Varadkar announced that it was his intention to make mandatory retirement ages illegal. Fianna Fáil have been consistently in favour of the abolition of mandatory retirement and also tabled a similar bill after this once was introduced last December.

“I am calling on both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to support this bill for the benefit of all workers.”