Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has consulted Attorney General Máire Whelan about the pensions controversy at Independent News and Media.

Around 100 current and former employees protested outside an extraordinary general meeting of INM shareholders earlier this week over significant cuts to their pension entitlements. 

Last month, the company announced it would no longer contribute to the defined benefit pension scheme, effectively triggering its closure. 

On RTÉ's Prime Time programme last night, Minister Varadkar said he will ask the Attorney General if it is possible for him to intervene.

Independent News and Media restructured its defined benefit pension scheme in 2013. Under that ten-year plan, staff had to accept benefit cuts of around 40%.

But last month INM announced that it would cease contributions to that scheme citing factors including regulatory funding requirements and falling bond yields. 

Although INM will contribute to a defined contribution scheme in future, current and former employees now face total benefit cuts averaging 70%.

Employees argue that closing the pension scheme will boost INM's balance sheet, and that some of that should go to plug the gap in pension entitlements.

INM shareholders include businessmen Denis O'Brien and Dermot Desmond, who between them own almost 45% of the company.