‘An overdue and a very necessary post’

Source : The News Letter
Published on 22 June 2010 09:00 AM

Francis Hughes, 69, from Dunmurry believes the appointment of an Older People’s Commissioner is “long overdue”.

“It is a very necessary post. Hopefully, he or she will have strong powers and we will have somebody who will understand the difficulties that older people face and will have powers to try and bring about some change in older people’s lives.”

One issue Mr Hughes said he hopes the commissioner will endeavour to tackle is age discrimination.

“Age discrimination is not outlawed yet, particularly in the area of goods and services. When you reach an older age, you can have quite a hike, for instance, in the costs of holiday insurance.”

The retired civil servant said he hoped the commissioner would also look into the costs of nursing and residential homes. He added: “Hopefully the Older People’s Commissioner will be able to deal with any discrimination against older people, particularly if they are trying to get involved in public life, and be able to investigate any complaints on their behalf.”

Mr Hughes is on the executive committee of the Age Sector Platform and has been involved in the legislation consultation process at Stormont. He was part of a delegation which went toWales recently to hear how the Older People’s Commissioner there is making a difference.

“We went over there to hear people’s thoughts and see how things have progressed in the two years since they’ve had a commissioner. The feedback has been very good, but I think it is still verymuch a bedding down process.”

And in terms of the ongoing costs of the post here in the Province, Mr Hughes said: “It works out at two pence per day for each resident of Northern Ireland. I think most people here, hopefully, wouldn’t say that that’s too much to have older people looked after.”

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