Elderly not the worst hit in our downturn.


New figures suggest that the over-50s in Irish society are now feeling the recession in ways they haven’t before. According to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Nationwide UK, this sector is no longer saving the way it used to. The reality, however, is that compared to the ‘squeezed middle’ and the ‘coping classes’ – not to mention our emigrating youth – the older generation have, in general, been better protected in our economic crash. I wrote this 2 years ago, and its points are still valid: including the necessity not to treat all the elderly as a ‘special interest group’ deserving of State charity.


If you look at the public sector, that huge draw on our finances, it is those who are retiring now who are doing best with their pensions package, whereas those retiring in the future will not do so well. And those on the lower ends of the civil service pay scales are nearly all younger. In fact, the whole public sector pensions and ‘lump sums’ bonanza could be seen in Ireland as a case of the older generation beggaring the young. James Joyce once said that Ireland was ‘the farrow that ate its young’, and it’s still the case. It is not the elderly who are taking the emigrant airplane, after all, but overwhelmingly the young.

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