Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has urged the Government to act on the key recommendations to support the rights of older people contained in two reports from Fianna Fáil and Seanad Éireann.
Speaking from Leinster House today, Senator Ó Domhnaill said: “The number of people in Ireland over the age 65 is expected to double over the next three decades alone. Promoting the rights of older people, tackling social isolation and improving home supports for the older generation must be at the heart of Government policy in the coming years.
“Last month, Fianna Fáil published an extensive strategy to tackle the challenges associated with an aging population. The ‘Active Ageing and Quality Caring’ policy includes a range of initiatives to empower older people and allow them to stay living in their own home until later in life. It includes legislation to scrap the compulsory retirement age; establish dedicated employment supports for job seekers over the age of 50; restore fuel, electricity and gas allowances; overhaul the legislation on elder abuse; introduce free Breast Cancer Screening for women over the age of 65; develop public transport systems for older people in rural areas; and establish a Minister of State for Older Citizens with a place at the Cabinet table.
“Now, the Seanad Public Consultation Committee has published its own report on this issue. Submissions were invited from relevant stakeholders on the rights of older people.
“The recommendations in the report include proposals to: set aside a portion of the Free Travel Scheme to provide a rural taxi voucher option for the 37% of older people who are eligible for the scheme; change the Carers’ Allowance to allow people who return to Ireland and are not ‘habitually resident’ to take on the role of caring of home form a family member and; ensure that all patients receiving end of life care are automatically eligible for a medical card once the appropriate diagnosis is made
Senator Ó Domhnaill commented: “The proposals contained in both the Seanad report and the Fianna Fáil report would make a real difference to the lives of older people, particularly to those living in rural areas who are at risk of social isolation. In most cases the proposals are cost-neutral so there is no excuse for the Government to avoid taking action.”