Currently in Ireland, over 11% of our population are over 65 years old and despite stereotypes to the contrary, the vast majority are healthy, able and active individuals with much to offer their communities and society as a whole. I began examining the issues of ageing and ageism because I believe that it is time to seriously evaluate:
- Our attitude to our growing older population.
- The role older people have and can have in society.
- Care and service provision for older people – without whom we would not be enjoying the fruits of the ‘Celtic Tiger’.
This policy document represents the culmination of over a year’s research and discussion on this topic. I have held a series of public meetings, where I had the opportunity to listen to the concerns of older people and their representative organisations. These meetings included:
- Public Meeting: 11 February 2006 – Parish Centre, Rathgar
- Public Meeting: 24 February 2006 – Railway Union Sports Club, Sandymount
- Public Meeting: 10 March 2006 – The Dropping Well, Milltown
- Private Meeting: 13 March 2006 – Ringsend Active Retirement Association
- Conference: 6 May 2006 – Berkeley Court Hotel, Ballsbridge
The meetings and conference were well attended and the discussion that arose was both insightful and extremely important in the context of putting together a policy document for older people; and they inspired me to raise older people’s issues at a national level.
I have put the subject of ageing and ageism on the agenda of two meetings of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party in the presence of An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern T.D., Fianna Fáil ministers, TDs and Senators. These motions were very well received.
- Motion before the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party, 31 January 2006
- Motion before the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party, 9 May 2006
I have met with lobbying and representative groups for older people; I have consulted active retirement associations; I have attended several conferences for older people; I have examined the numerous reports commissioned on older people’s issues; and I have examined the existing policies and their impact for the older population.
A New Approach To Ageing & Ageism provides an analysis of the many issues facing older people in Ireland and advances a series of specific recommendations in response to the challenges that exist now, and the challenges that lie ahead.
Senator Mary White
21 June 2006