There is a slightly disturbing item in WI’s 2010 accounts [PDF]:
1.5 Deferred Pension Funding
In accordance with accounting practice for non-commercial State bodies in the Republic of Ireland, Waterways Ireland recognises an asset representing resources to be made available by the UK and Irish Exchequers for the unfunded deferred liability for pensions on the basis of a number of past events. These events include the statutory backing for the superannuation schemes, and the policy and practice in relation to funding public service pensions in both
jurisdictions including the annual estimates process. While there is no formal agreement and therefore no guarantee regarding these specific amounts with the funding bodies, Waterways Ireland has no evidence that this funding policy will not continue to progressively meet this amount in accordance with current practice. This treatment is inconsistent with accounting practice for UK Non-Departmental Bodies, where, due to the absence of a formal guarantee, a funding liability is not recognised until the commitment falls due.
IANAA, but an absence of evidence for the non-existence of the tooth fairy would not convince me that it does exist. I suppose it’s the same for any other unfunded pension scheme, and (unlike the UK practice) at least acknowledges the size of the problem, but it’s not exactly reassuring, either to taxpayers or to future pensioners. If I’ve misunderstood it, perhaps some kindly accountant will correct me.