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The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, has today announced key appointments to the Pensions Authority and Pensions Council. These new bodies will strengthen governance of occupational pensions and give consumers greater input into pensions policy.

Ms Jane Williams, the current chair of the Pensions Board, will chair the newly formed Pensions Authority whilst Mr Jim Murray, former Director of the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC), will chair the Pensions Council.

The Pensions Board is being renamed the Pensions Authority and oversight of the Authority will be provided by a three-person board, comprising of

•             Ms Jane Williams (Chair)

•             Dr Orlaigh Quinn, Assistant Secretary in the Department of Social Protection, who will represent                 Minister Burton; and

•             Ms Ann Nolan, Second Secretary in the Department of Finance, who will represent Finance                         Minister Michael Noonan.

The separate unpaid Pensions Council is being created to operate as a pensions advisory panel and will report to the Minister for Social Protection on matters of pensions policy.  Mr Murray will chair the Council, and members will be recruited though the Public Appointments Service.

Minister Burton stated “These key changes are in line with expert recommendations and will achieve a number of objectives. Firstly, the separation between regulatory oversight and policy development will ensure there is no perception of regulatory ‘capture’ by the industry.  Secondly, the changes will ensure the system has a far stronger consumer focus, with the Pensions Council there to represent and protect the consumer.  Lastly, we need to improve awareness of the private and occupational pensions system – both to ensure that those with pensions know exactly how their pensions will work for them, and to increase pensions coverage amongst those who currently have none.”

The CEO of the Pensions Board is now being renamed as the Pensions Regulator, with Mr Brendan Kennedy continuing in that role.

These changes take effect from the March 7 2014.