Senior citizens' group welcomes final step to appoint Commissioner

THE Chair of Newtownabbey Senior Citizens' Forum (NSCF) has welcomed the Assembly's decision to approve the appointment an Older People's Commissioner.

The new legislation received approval during a final stage debate at Stormont last week.

The Commissioner will identify issues of strategic importance and will have the statutory power and authority to challenge and take action on behalf of older people.

"One of the Commissioner's key tasks will be to challenge discrimination against older people; to promote positive attitudes towards older people and encourage their full participation in public life," explained Junior Minister Robin Newton

Junior Minister Gerry Kelly added: "By bringing forward this legislation and establishing a Commissioner for Older People now, we are taking a longer-term view of the issues of an ageing population to ensure that older people here have the strong voice and protection that they deserve."

NSCF Chairperson, Betty Gillespie, said that she was delighted the Assembly had approved the appointment of an Older People's Commissioner, describing the announcement as "great news."

"We have worked very hard for this for a long time - Age Sector Platform, Age NI and us (NSCF) as well - and we are delighted that it has finally been passed.

"I hope that it's not just some civil servant who is appointed to the role - we need someone with plenty of clout as there are a lot of issues which need to be addressed," she commented.

It is understood the Commissioner is expected to be appointed some time next year.