SIPTU representatives have rejected a claim by finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, that the State cannot afford to stop the increase in the pension age to 67 years in 2021. Responding to finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, who questioned how the €200 million cost of such a policy could be funded, SIPTU Researcher, Michael Taft, said that it could be financed from the existing Social Insurance Fund. Michael Taft said: “The Minister has said that it will cost €217 million per year to stop the pension age increase and has questioned how this would be paid for.  The €217 million cost of stopping the increase can be paid out of the surplus in the Social Insurance Fund. The Fund is currently running a surplus of €1.4 billion a year. The reality is that, in the short term, there would be no need to increase taxation, cut spending or borrow to finance the cancellation of the pension age increase. For the longer term, the ‘STOP67’ SIPTU campaign has called for a Stakeholder Forum to discuss new policies regarding issues such as the pension age, age discrimination, living standards and life quality in retirement.” “The Government has already introduced a number of new PRSI based payments, such as optical, dental, illness benefits and unemployment benefit for self-employed, which are paid out of the Social Insurance Fund surplus. It is quite credible to suggest that the Fund can be used to cover the short-term cost of halting the planned increase in the pension age to 67 next year.” A SIPTU campaign to stop the plans to increase the state pension age to 67 years of age in 2021 and 68 in 2028 has become a major issue in this election, prior to its formal launch on Thursday, 23rd January in Dublin.  SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley said: “SIPTU members have helped to make the government plan to raise the pension age to 67 one of the major issues of the election campaign. In recent weeks, SIPTU representatives have been working hard, lobbying politicians and bringing together interested organisations to campaign on this issue which was one of the key concerns raised by our membership at the union’s Biennial delegate conference last year.” The ‘STOP67’ SIPTU campaign to halt the increase in the state pension age will be formally launched at an event in the Cheyne Room, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, 6 Kildare Street, Dublin 2 at 11.00 a.m. on Thursday, 23rd January. The launch will also be addressed by supportive campaign groups including Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland.