Author: Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
Published on 08 December 2010 11:00 AM
Junior Ministers Robin Newton and Gerry Kelly have welcomed the final step to appoint an Older People’s Commissioner here.
Speaking as the legislation to establish a Commissioner reached its Final Stage Debate in the Assembly, Junior Minister Newton said: “We never cease to be impressed with the energy and passion displayed by older people when they get an opportunity to have their voices heard.
“The establishment of an Older People's Commissioner here will provide another strong voice. This is a groundbreaking development. With the exception of Wales, no other European country has a Commissioner of this type. This is a landmark piece of legislation brought forward by this Assembly. It is another example of a local Assembly responding to the needs of local people.
“Now that the legislation has reached this critical stage, we intend to establish a Commissioner for Older People as soon as possible.”
“One of the Commissioner‘s key tasks will be to challenge discrimination against older people; to promote positive attitudes towards older people and encourage their full participation in public life.”
Junior Minister Kelly said: “This is a momentous day for older people here. By bringing forward this legislation and establishing a Commissioner for Older People now, we are taking a longer-term view of the issues of an ageing population to ensure that older people here have the strong voice and protection that they deserve.”
Junior Minister Kelly continued: “Evidence provided during the OFMDFM Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill revealed gaps in existing provision. When an independent Commissioner for Older People is appointed, these will be closed and there will be a dedicated focal point for older people.
The Commissioner will identify issues of strategic importance and will have the statutory power and authority to challenge and take action on behalf of older people.”
The next step is for the Bill to receive Royal Assent which will be completed in January 2011. A Commissioner can then be appointed in 2011 following implementation of recruitment procedures that will involve older people.