Landmark day for older people

Landmark day

The unheard voice of the average older person in Northern Ireland boomed through the corridors of Stormont today, as a newly established campaigning and lobbying force for older people was officially launched.

Age Sector Platform, which aims to represent a strong and unified voice for older people, was launched by Junior Ministers Gerry Kelly and Jeffrey Donaldson, thereby securing the organisation’s relationship with those whom it will lobby over the coming months and years, on issues of concern to older people.

The organisation, which currently represents over 200,000 older people across Northern Ireland, also launched its campaign priorities for the next year.  Issues such as the rising cost of living for older people, the ongoing existence of age discrimination and the inadequacy of funding for the age sector appeared as important priorities for the organisation.  Ongoing issues of concern such as transport, community safety and health and social care, also featured on the list of planned campaigns.

Bill Carson, Chairman of Age Sector Platform, commented: “This is a landmark day for older people in Northern Ireland.  With around one third of Northern Ireland’s population over the age of fifty, the need for an older people’s campaigning voice is obvious.  Issues of concern to older people must be moved up the political agenda, to correspond with current demographic trends.”

Mr Carson continued: “Older people have a wealth of experience and expertise; Government and policy makers need to use this untapped potential.  Age Sector Platform hopes to achieve this by encouraging and facilitating older people from across Northern Ireland to become involved in the formation of policy and legislation which will affect them.  It will act as a platform for older people to speak openly on issues of concern and ensure that the voice of older people is conveyed strongly and clearly.”

“At the ceremony today, members of Age Sector Platform from all parts of Northern Ireland stood up and, speaking from experience, outlined the actions that are needed to improve the lives of older people.  It was a proud day for all those who have been involved in the establishment of the organisation and we look forward to moving into a new era where older people are at the heart of decision-making.”