Junior Minister Kelly launches Age Awareness Week 2008
Sinn Féin Junior Minister Gerry Kelly officially launched Age Awareness Week during a special ceremony at Parliament Buildings today.
Speaking at the launch Minister Kelly said society needed to acknowledge the wealth of skills and experience which older people have.
"Too often older people are considered as one single body, but they are individuals who have evolving needs and who experience key events at different stages in their lives. As a society we need to fully recognise and acknowledge the wealth of skills and experience older people have and ensure that we as a society fully recognise and promote the resources they bring, whether in the labour market or in the field of volunteering and service provision.
"Age Awareness Week provides us with an ideal opportunity not only to highlight the contributions made by older people but also to demonstrate to employers what a wonderful resource older people are," explained Minister Kelly.
"We are all living longer and that is a cause for celebration but it also represents one of the major challenges for the 21st century. As a society we need to ensure that we are doing all we can to help those who are most vulnerable, those who live with financial hardship, those who live lonely and isolated lives.
"It is important that we demonstrate we care for the most vulnerable particularly those who have contributed so much. We need to ensure that issues such as the shocking attacks on older people are stopped and those responsible held accountable for their actions."
Mr Kelly emphasised the Executive's commitment to older people.
"The establishment of an Older People's Commissioner is a key priority for OFMDFM and we are keen to ensure that momentum towards that is maintained. Officials are currently finalising arrangements to secure the services of a suitable individual who will act as an Older People's Advocate, pending the appointment of an Older People's Commissioner, who will be responsible for providing independent advice to ministers on issues of importance to older people." ENDS
Notes to Editors
The theme of this year's Age Awareness Week is "Rights: Raising awareness of the right to equality and non-discrimination and the problem of multiple-discrimination".
Minister Kelly was joined at the launch by Jeremy Harbison, Chairman of the Changing Age Partnership Advisory Panel, Anne O'Reilly, Changing Ageing Partnership, the Children and Young Peoples' Commissioner Patricia Lewsley and by Jean Lambert MEP, Co-President of the European Parliament Intergroup on Ageing.