Dáil Éireann - Volume 536 - 15 May, 2001
Written Answers - Pension Provisions.
Mr. Connaughton Mr. Connaughton
276. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason senior staff nurses who retired prior to 5 November 1999 will not receive parity in so far as their pension entitlements are concerned in the context of the pay award to the nursing professions; the further reason deputy charge nurses, theatre night sisters and public health nurses who retired on a date prior to 1 July 1999 are in a similar situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13538/01]
Mr. McGuinness Mr. McGuinness
302. Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will consider the case being made by the Retired Nurses Association of Ireland for exclusion from the pensions commission recommendations for present day retired nurses; if he will give consideration to their request that all grades of retired nurses be covered by the present parity system for pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13693/01]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 and 302 together.
I am aware of concerns expressed by the Retired Nurses Association of Ireland concerning the report of the Commission on Public Service Pensions and the 1999 nurses pay agreement. The Government intends to make formal decisions on the recommendations of the Commission on Public Service Pensions following detailed consideration of the report which was published on 31 January 2001. The Government will then move to establish the working group, provided for under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, to advise on implementation of the relevant Government decisions. The working group will comprise representatives of the public service unions, relevant Departments, and other appropriate bodies.
The commission's recommendations have implications for all parties having an interest in public service pensions including the Government, public service employers, trade unions, pensioner associations such as the Retired Nurses Association of Ireland, individual public servants, and pensioners, as well as the taxpayer. For this reason, the Government is taking particular care in examining the report.
When publishing the report, the Minister for Finance commented on the commission view that its recommendations represented an integrated and cohesive long-term strategy for public service pensions, and that in implementing this strategy it would be important to preserve the integrity of the measures in the report as a whole. As he stated then, he expects this to be a significant consideration in deciding the Government's response to the commission's report. It would, therefore, be inappropriate to address specific issues in isolation at this stage.
With regard to the 1999 nurses pay settlement, the standard parity criteria, whereby retired nurses benefit from adjustments made to the salaries applicable to the grades in which they served before their retirement, continue to apply.
 The Retired Nurses Association's concerns relate specifically to the senior staff nurse post, and to red-circled allowances payable to deputy nursing officers, theatre and night sisters and public health nurses. The senior staff nurse is a new post created as part of the 1999 settlement. Staff appointed to these posts will benefit from the rate for the post on retirement. The senior staff nurse rate does not, however, apply to pensioners who retired prior to 5 November 1999.
With regard to the red-circled allowances referred to earlier, these allowances only apply to nurses who were in employment on the effective date of 16 November 1999. As pensionable allowances are only taken into account at retirement where actual moneys have been paid and contribution in respect of such payments have been made to the superannuation scheme, it follows that these allowances cannot be applied to pensioners who retired before the effective date.
These issues have been raised by the Nursing Alliance and discussions have taken place under the auspices of the Health Service Employers Agency. In this context, my Department has confirmed with the Department of Finance that the approach being taken is consistent with public service pensions increase policy. My policy adviser, accompanied by officials from my Department's nursing policy division, met with a delegation from the association on 9 May 2001.
Dáil Éireann 536 Written Answers Pension Provisions.