Belfast Telegraph

No age equality laws before 2016

Legislation to end age discrimination will not be introduced before assembly elections in 2016, the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland said.

It is a Programme for Government (PFG) commitment to protect people from discrimination when accessing goods, facilities and services on the grounds of age during this Assembly mandate, pensioners' advocate Claire Keatinge added.

She claimed people had been failed due to lack of political agreement.

"They will continue to be lawfully discriminated against to the extent that they can be denied life improving or life saving treatment, as well as some financial services.

"Older people are deserving of the highest level of care and treatment, but the failure to introduce age discrimination legislation raises the question as to how important the rights of older people really are to the Northern Ireland Executive."

According to the Commissioner, junior minister at OFMDFM Jennifer McCann told the Pensioners' Parliament in Stormont earlier this week that the legislation will not be completed in this mandate.

Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, outgoing Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, said they were also affected.

"Children and their parents and guardians have been let down by this announcement. They have been denied the legal protection required to support them to make sure they get the services children and young people require and deserve.

"I am concerned about the message this broken promise sends to our young people about how they are valued in our society."

Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said of the six grounds on which the law makes discrimination unlawful, age is the only one where that is limited to the area of employment.

"We have been working to have age discrimination law extended so that people of all ages are protected against discrimination when carrying out basic social and economic activities such as using financial services, purchasing goods, or accessing facilities and essential services," he said.

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