The head of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland has warned against making short-sighted changes to the State pension system.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Philip Shier said that the State pension is currently financed on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning the contributions currently being made by workers are paying the pensions of those currently retired.

As a result it needs to be looked at as a long-term issue, notwithstanding the immediate problems that have also emerged.

"There's a short-term issue in that people who are forced to retire, say at 65, and don't receive their State pensiopn until 66, or next year as proposed 67, there's clearly an issue there that needs to be addressed," he said. "There are various proposals to address that and as a short-term issue we are quite happy that a transitional payment would be made to aleviate the problems of those people.

"The difficulty is that that may become the status quo and effectively we would be reverting to a State pension age of 65 and - as we've already said - that is not affordable in the long-term."

Mr Shier suggested that one potential longer-term solution is to bring some flexibility into the pension system, allowing people to decide whether they want to take their pension early or late.

Those who take it early would receive a lower weekly sum than the standard rate, while those who defer it until later would get a higher one, he said. 

"That flexibility would be helpful to go towards addressing the problem," Mr Shier said.