Older People’s Charities Call on NI Executive to Deliver on Promise to Stop Age Discrimination
Representatives from Age NI and Age Sector Platform will today meet with Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann to stress the importance of legislation to outlaw age discrimination in areas like healthcare, financial services and retail.
Age NI and Age Sector Platform are calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to progress with the legislation urgently to ensure older people are provided with the same protection as their counterparts in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. As the charities launch their position paper Stop Age Discrimination they say action on this outstanding Programme for Government commitment is long overdue.
Linda Robinson, Age NI Chief Executive said, 'Older people in Northern Ireland tell us that they are seriously concerned about being treated like second class citizens compared to those in GB and RoI. In recent weeks we heard from Pat Kelso, who had to seek private treatment for a hip replacement because her age prevented timely treatment on the NHS.
'We have also recently been contacted by someone who believes they have been refused a mortgage on the grounds of age. Both have talked about the serious and negative impact this potential discrimination has had on their lives. These are two of many examples of older people who’ve sought advice from Age NI about age discrimination.
'In addition, we have engaged directly with over 130 people in later life on this specific issue. It’s time for the NI Executive to listen to the voices of older people and deliver on their promise to stop age discrimination.
'Stop Age Discrimination, Age NI and Age Sector Platform’s joint position paper sets out the rationale and evidence base to the Junior Ministers for urgent introduction of this legislation. It makes the case for legislation which will provide robust and far-reaching protections for older people across all areas of goods, facilities and services. It sets out the rationale supporting our joint position to include people of all ages within the scope of the legislation, a position which has both political and public support.
'We know that preventing disadvantage, whether poverty or age discrimination, results in improved outcomes for everyone when they are older.'
Francis Hughes, Chair of Age Sector Platform, added, 'As an older person, it is difficult to accept that it is perfectly legal to deny me and my peers access to services or treatment simply because of our age, but at the moment that is the case here.
'The Northern Ireland Executive has pledged to introduce legislation to make these sorts of practices illegal, but unfortunately there has been a delay in bringing this important law forward.
'At the recent Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, we heard shocking evidence from Professor Mark Lawler in relation to age discrimination in cancer treatment. It is clear that the introduction of this legislation could prove to have life or death consequences for older people in Northern Ireland, and we need action now.
'At this stage, it is worrying that the time available for proper engagement and participation of older people will be limited. Progress needs to be made soon so that we may have a say on something which will undoubtedly have huge impact on our lives.
'Older people have campaigned for this legislation for over ten years. We deserve to live in a place where it is unlawful to be discriminated against because of our age.'
Age NI and Age Sector Platform are calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to publish a credible timeline to pass this legislation before May 2016 to ensure that people receive protection from harmful discrimination on the grounds of age.
The charities say urgent action is needed to agree and launch proposals for public consultation in order to ensure that there is time for all the usual legislative stages to be undertaken.
Visit www.ageni.org/stopagediscrimination to access the joint position paper, or share your experiences on Twitter @EverydayAgeism.