This letter is a reply to the original article which appeared in the Irish Times on Saturday 13 February 2010.
Madam – Saturday’s Irish Times article on Gay Byrne provided some remarkable insights – not only into the mind of the great broadcaster, but also into how many of Ireland’s Older People feel they are treated. Gay’s comment on the “constant, low-level anxiety” felt by people of his generation is certainly echoed by many of the members of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament.
2009 brought Older People – and everyone else – the continuing banking & credit crisis, the introduction of NAMA, the continuation of the over-70s Medical card debacle, further threats to pensions and other entitlements and the introduction of prescription charges & income levies.
The article states that Gay has “borne witness to decades of mismanagement” but in 2010 older people can look forward to among other things a Carbon Tax, metered water charges and a decrease in Older People’s waivers for waste charges together with VAT on Local Authority Charges to name but a few items. Where will it stop we ask.
However it was his lament on lack of consultation – “Had. I. Been. Asked.” – that indicated the single greatest challenge for Older People in today’s Ireland. Older People have valuable contributions to make to society – the ISCP works to enable these contributions to be heard and implemented. For example next month’s Annual Parliament Meeting will be an opportunity for Older People to speak on issues that concern them – ranging from the impact of the withdrawal of the Medical Card for over-70s to Elder Abuse to the need for the Community Support Scheme to enable people to feel secure in their homes.
But who will listen?
All is not lost, however. As part of the National Positive Ageing Strategy, the Minister for Older People and Health Promotion, Áine Brady TD is beginning a series of meetings around the country to hear the views of older people on issues that affect them. This is a most welcome development and is fully supported by the ISCP. We look forward to the action which we hope will follow the consultation.
The lives lived by Older People should be treasured and value should be given to their ongoing contributions to society in so many different ways. They should not be treated as economic units, but rather as valued citizens with a great deal to offer and valuable suggestions to enable all of us together to make Ireland the best place in which to grow old.
Irish Senior Citizens Parliament