Motion no: 7
Delegates will recall that in 2016 this conference passed a motion calling on the NI Executive and Assembly to complete the legislation designed to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of age a requirement under the 1998 Belfast Agreement and the subject of equivalent legislation in England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.
The legislation was almost ready to be passed when the institutions of the Belfast Agreement collapsed in January 2017, but there is an opportunity again to finally complete this unfinished business. This is not a tokenistic concession to the lobbying and campaigning power of older people. Rather, it’s fulfilment would be a suitable tribute to our citizens who refuse to fade away from public life upon retirement, many of whom are trade union activists of long standing, still active in their unions, in the National Pensioners’ Convention and the NI Age Sector Platform, which ceased operations this year.
It is appropriate that the pledge in New Decade New Approach to include this issue as a ‘priority concern’, and it deserves to be honoured as part of the next Programme for Government.
The proposed legislation presented in 2015 for consultation from OFMDFM (now The Executive Office) is far from perfect but it represents an important first step.
Conference believes that age discrimination legislation in relation to goods facilities and services must:
- Be framed with a strong purpose clause containing a series of clearly articulated goals;
- Include the public, private and voluntary sector in its scope;
- Include strong protections for older people across all areas of goods facilities and services, in particular health and social care and financial services;
- Include people of all ages in the scope of the legislation;
- Learn from the experience of the pandemic not to marginalise our elder citizens, but to value their continued contribution to our society.
This Conference therefore calls on the NI Executive to take steps to introduce legislation to address this issue without further delay. Our older citizens do not have the time to wait.