It was announced in the budget that the Government has decided that the minimum pension age should be increased to 65 years for most new entrants to the public service, including teachers, from 1 April 2004. In announcing the Government's decision on pension age and on the intended abolition of compulsory retirement age for most new entrant public servants from 1 April 2004, the Minister for Finance stated that the public service unions would be fully informed about the implementation of the reforms in advance of their introduction with effect from 1 April 2004. The process of informing the public service unions has commenced and a number of meetings have already taken place between the public service unions, including the INTO, and officials of the Department of Finance, my Department and other Departments.
Since the Government has taken its decision on the retirement age of new entrants and as a forum has been put in place, I do not see that any useful purpose would be served at this time by a meeting as suggested by the Deputy. I must emphasise that the minimum pension age for existing public servants is not in any way affected by the Government decision.