IRELAND – The forthcoming OECD review of Ireland's pensions system will trigger "major" reforms, the country's minister for social protection has promised.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Joan Burton also said she aimed to legislate for changes to the wind-up order in the first half of the next year.

The current wind-up order awards pensioners absolute priority over actives and deferreds, an arrangement the Labour TD said was "inequitable".

Outlining her legislative plans for 2013, Burton said: "I propose to introduce major reforms to pensions policy next year, following publication of the OECD review of the pensions landscape in Ireland, which is due in April."

The OECD review, announced in February, was aimed at addressing the pension system's sustainability, as well as examining ways to "encourage and facilitate" greater domestic investment by pension funds.

Edward Whitehouse, overseeing the review on behalf of the OECD, previously indicated that auto-enrolment could be one of the recommended reforms, noting it was a "sensible third way" between compulsion and an entirely voluntary system.

An auto-enrolment policy would appear in line with the coalition government's pledge to achieve universal coverage across the pension system.

Burton further told the Dáil she would shortly be receiving a report on potential changes to the wind-up order.

Her department has previously said Mercer was conducting a review of the system.

"This is a complex area, and there are no easy options," she said, adding that it was "clear" that the current wind-up order was "inequitable".

Burton said she had been struck by the level of consensus among stakeholders arguing for change.

The Society of Actuaries in Ireland has previously outlined potential changes that have received backing from the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF), union umbrella group ICTU and employer organisation IBEC.

Indicating her preferred timeline for amending the wind-up order, Burton said: "Once I receive the technical report, I will bring proposals to Cabinet with a view to amending the current order of priority in the social welfare and pensions bill that I will introduce in the first half of next year."

It was initially expected that the government would introduce changes to the wind-up order with the same legislation that outlined the revised funding standard – passed earlier this year – as Burton had highlighted the issue as far back as October 2011 at an IAPF conference.