Keatinge given groundbreaking role
A former director of the Alzheimer's Society in Northern Ireland has been appointed the province's first Commissioner for Older People.
Claire Keatinge will take up her £60,000 post on November 14.
Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson said with the exception of Wales, nowhere else in Europe had a Commissioner of this type.
He said: "This appointment is a groundbreaking development and will be widely welcomed. This appointment fulfils our Programme for Government commitment to 'deliver a strong independent voice for older people'.
"Claire will play a key role in challenging discrimination against older people, promoting positive attitudes towards older people and encouraging their participation in public life. I wish her every success in the post."
Acting Deputy First Minister John O'Dowd said: "This is a great day for our older citizens who now have a strong voice to champion causes which affect their everyday lives. The creation of this post is another example of a local Assembly responding to the needs of local people.
"She will be a dedicated focal point for all our older citizens and will have the statutory power and authority to challenge and take action on their behalf."
Ms Keatinge was the director of the Alzheimer's Society in Northern Ireland and was responsible and accountable for services, external affairs and promoting the rights of people with dementia. Before that she was the Director (Community Development and Health) for Age Concern NI.
As Commissioner for Older People Ms Keatinge will have a wide range of promotional, advisory, education and general investigatory functions, duties and powers to be deployed in the interest of older people both generally and individually.