Pat Ferguson, long-standing head of Ireland’s €1.3bn Construction Workers Pension Scheme (CWPS), is to retire in October.

Ferguson, until recently chief executive of the scheme and currently head of the trustee secretariat, said he would be standing down prior to his 65th birthday.

Active in the construction industry for more than three decades, he started at the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) in 1981 and assumed responsibility for pension arrangements in 1986.

He has been with the predecessor to CWPS since 2000.

He told IPE his replacement, Anne Keogh, had started at the scheme at the beginning of July, and that he was in the process of handing over his responsibilities.

Prior to joining CIF Pension Administration Services, Keogh was pensions manager at Aer Lingus, which has recently concluded negotations with the underfunded Irish Airlies Superannuation Scheme.

She spent 20 years at the airline before departing last month and told IPE: ”I greatly enjoyed working at Aer Lingus and all the opportunities I had there, but I am delighted to be starting my new role.

”I am looking forward to the challenges and continuing Pat’s great work within the ever-changing pensions landscape.”

Ferguson said he hoped to join some new trustee boards as an independent trustee following his official retirement.

“I would like to keep my hand in and give what contribution I can to the industry that reared me,” he said.

“I have worked since I was 16, so it’s time now to take a rest.”

He added that he had a “fairly large garden that needs to be controlled”.

Ferguson said he was very happy about the condition in which he was leaving CWPS.

“Administration and board-wise, the set-up couldn’t be much better than it is now,” he said. “We’ve good governance all round.”

He said the fund had recently overhauled its structure, leading to his appointment as head of the trustee secretariat.

The move away from the chief executive role reflects the fact the CWPS is not the trustee’s sole responsibility – instead being part and parcel of a wider benefit system – a retirement system for construction executives, one for self-employed builders and the sick-pay fund for the industry.

Ferguson was upbeat about the industry’s future.

“The construction industry is on the mend,” he said. “We’ve seen our numbers fall quite dramatically, and, hopefully, the scheme will now start to grow again.”

However, he said the challenge facing the fund in future would be a requirement to compete for members in the open market – following a ruling in May last year that found the 1946 law underpinning Ireland’s registered employment agreements, the country’s collective bargaining arrangements, were unconstitutional. 

As a result, membership in the CWPS is no longer mandatory for the sector’s employees.