A leading economist has warned that Ireland's pension coverage is too low.

Friends First economist Jim Power said the Government needed to address the issue because the population will age quickly over the coming years.

The latest fear among experts is that Ireland could suffer the phenomenon of the retiring poor.

There is a bulge in the population of people who are currently entering the workforce. In the next 30 years those people will approach retirement, but there will be far fewer workers to support them.

Mr Power said the level of pension coverage is particularly low for female workers in catering and agriculture. He warned that this represents a significant challenge to the economy in the medium term.

The issue of pensions needs to move up the political agenda as a matter of extreme urgency, he said.