Mary Purcell lives in a rural parish in the West of Ireland.
Bill Toner S.J. is Director of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Dublin.
A Penny-Pinching Pension Scheme
Social Insurance for self-employed persons was introduced in 1988. This was a progressive move, long overdue. Before the change, people who chose the option of becoming self-employed people were more at risk of insecurity and poverty in old age than those employed by others. Many thousands of self-employed, from small shopkeepers to bicycle repair men, were too poor to be able to negotiate their own personal insurance schemes and in old age they became a burden, grudgingly borne, on the state. In fact, notwithstanding the above title, many of the group on which this article focuses are not actually ‘retired’ since they cannot afford to retire. But they are at the age at which most of their fellow-citizens have retired.