Well I think we should all agree that we had a great summer one of the best in several years. I hope you all made good use of it and feel the better for it now. We certainly started off very well with our AGM in Limerick at the end of May.
We choose Limerick not because it was the City of Culture but because it was central in terms of access and is well supported by transport. As it turned out neither of these issues mattered as the number of members attending was not influenced by them. What really mattered was the hotel and the Kilmurry Lodge was a real gem. Its location and car parking facilities were excellent, the staff were so friendly and helpful that it provided a great atmosphere for our AGM. The food and service was excellent and the weather magnificent.
Over seventy attended the AGM, our guests included Gerry Quinn, Vice President and incoming President of the TUI, Michael Gillespie, Assistant General Secretary TUI and our link with the executive. We had guests from other retired teaching organisations we had Carmel Heneghan President of the Retired Secondary Teachers of Ireland and Marie Clarke, President of the Retired Teachers Association of Ireland. From the Alliance of Retired Public Servants we had the Chairman Brian Burke and we had a representative from the Retired Garda association. The AGM was a very active and participative event and Jim McCarthy was returned as Chairman for a further three years.
In the afternoon we went to Adare village for a tour. We were entertained educated and fed by the staff of the Heritage Centre. They met us on the outskirts of the village where the restored Desmond Castle is situated, this was a very informative and impressive tour. The castle has been restored in a grand manner, with walled enclosure and access to many parts of the extensive castle, the wooden doors at the entrance to the castle are most impressive, they were made as they would have been made originally with all the evidence to show. The weather was exceptional, blue skies and high temperatures which is not what was expected we were most grateful. From the castle we went to the Heritage Centre which is in the centre of the village. Here we had nice homemade cakes and refreshments plus a tour of their Historical Exhibition. The staff really looked after us, it is well worth a visit if you are in Adare. The Gala dinner in the Kilmurry Lodge finished off a very positive and productive AGM.
It was not all fun and games for us though, the Alliance was very active over the summer, we met the Minister in July, below is a report of that meeting.
Meeting with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, 22nd July, 2014
At short notice, we met Minister Brendan Howlin on Tuesday 22nd July. The Alliance deputation was the same as when we met him last year, i.e. Brian Burke, Sean O Riordain, Jim Dorney and myself.
We outlined our concerns (the need to unwind the emergency powers, the impact of the universal social charges and the need for access to third party on pension matters).
The Minister welcomed the formal establishment of the Alliance and he outlined the continuing economic difficulties that remained notwithstanding the progress in stabilising the economy made to date. He envisaged a process of ongoing discussions with the Alliance on public service pension matters.
The Minister indicated that discussions on an orderly winding down of the emergency powers would begin next year and that discussions would also be held with the Alliance.
The effective tax document was discussed in detail and we raised with him the prospect of movement in the short term. He, clearly, had not previously seen a document outlining the combined effect of the pension reductions, the universal social charge and income tax and he undertook to further consider the matter as soon as the basis of the summary figures provided by the Alliance were verified. It was agreed in this context that that a meeting would be held as soon as possible between Alliance and departmental representatives to advance this.
Our overall impression was that the meeting was much more positive than last year’s meeting and that there was potential for some progress in the short term.
Following that meeting with the Minister we met with his officials on Thursday 21st August to discuss in detail the Effective Rates of Tax that pertain to pensioners in the Public Sector in relation to the Private Sector, for example, someone on €40.000 pension their effective tax is 17% for the Public pensioner compared to 8% for a Private pensioner.
I am sad to relate the death of Marie Stafford, Marie died on the 1st July. Marie was a great attender at our outings along with her husband Sean, they were a wonderful couple and added so much to our outings.
No details are available for our autumn outing yet but keep an eye on the Webpage rmatui.ie.
Meath Branch; Monday 22nd September at 11am in Navan Education Centre, Athlumney, Navan.
Cork Branch; Thursday 25th September at 2.15pm. Check website for venue.
Dublin Branch; Friday 26th September at 11am in the Teachers Club, Parnell Square, Dublin 1.