Pensioners outline policies 'wish list' in manifesto
Tougher sentences for criminals who target older people and action to tackle lengthy hospital waiting times are among a series of demands made in a new manifesto published by pensioners.
The wish list, outlined by the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, also called for better home care packages, protection for travel passes and free prescriptions, more effective schemes to deal with fuel poverty and steps to end age discrimination.
The parliament was established in 2011 as a way of highlighting issues impacting on older people and giving a voice to that generation. The charity Age Sector Platform is responsible for running it.
The manifesto has been launched ahead of next year's Assembly election, along with a warning to local politicians not to ignore the "grey vote".
Chair of the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, Michael Monaghan, said: "This year's general election showed just how important the grey vote can be, with many attributing the Tories' success to the voting behaviour and high turnout of the older population.
"Closer to home, the last Assembly election saw two out of three older people voting, compared to a turnout of just over half for the population as a whole.
"If our local political parties are to learn anything from these examples, it's this - ignore the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament manifesto at your peril.
"Since 2011, the Pensioners Parliament has engaged with thousands of older people across Northern Ireland, and it's clear there are many bread and butter issues that older people believe the Assembly could address better.
"There are also real fears that, in times of stretched budgets, older people could fall victim to short-sighted policies that will have a negative impact on their quality of life for years to come.
"Over the next five months, older people from across Northern Ireland will take ownership of this manifesto, using it to lobby their local candidates on the issues that matter to them.
"Our goal is to see the calls contained in our manifesto replicated in the manifestos of local political parties, and eventually for these calls to appear in the next Programme for Government.
"Timing is everything, and now is the time for older people to ensure our voices are heard."