Author: Age NI
Published on 16 November 2010 10:00 AM
Older people from across Northern Ireland are making their way to Stormont today (Tuesday 16 November), to show their support for the Older People’s Commissioner’s Bill which is being debated in the Assembly.
Campaigners from a wide range of constituencies will meet with their local MLAs urging them to endorse legislation for a powerful Older People’s Commissioner, as they believe a Commissioner without adequate powers would be the equivalent of a ‘toothless tiger’.
Today’s visit to Stormont marks one of the final stages in a three-year long campaign to secure a much-needed Older People’s Commissioner for Northern Ireland’s ageing society. The process which began in December 2007 has attracted support from all walks of life, and resulted in unprecedented numbers of older people taking part in OFMDFM’s consultation process.
Francis Hughes of Age Sector Platform said: ‘The Consideration Stage of the Older People’s Commissioner’s Bill is a crucial phase in our journey to secure this landmark piece of legislation. We have been campaigning hard since 2007 for a powerful Commissioner that will be able to act with urgency and prioritise older people’s issues. The crowds of older people coming to Stormont today highlight how important the campaign is to all of us.’
He added: ‘Although there are other Commissions in Northern Ireland, evidence provided during the Committee scrutiny of the Bill revealed several gaps in existing provision. An Older People’s Commissioner with strong enough powers would act as a dedicated focal point protecting the rights of older people, and providing a user friendly approach dedicated to their needs.’
Ruth Marks, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has also expressed her support for the campaign, saying: ‘I welcome the move towards creating a Commissioner role in Northern Ireland and encourage countries to establish roles with the sole purpose of focusing on older people and the issues that are most important to them.”
She added: ‘Older people across Wales tell me that they value the fact that there is an independent Commissioner, with legal powers, to scrutinise and challenge and make sure that their voices are heard.’