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Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland Criticise Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael’s Framework for Coalition for Largely Ignoring Older People

Published 17/04/2020


(16 April) Active Retirement Ireland and Age Action have responded to a framework document published by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil with disappointment at the lack of commitments to older people and our ageing population. The document, which will inform coalition talks between the two political parties and potential coalition partners, was published yesterday and both NGOs have expressed concern that older people are being “largely ignored”.


Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement, said, “The context of this document is very much about getting society back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic, so to see the ones who have suffered the most, and sacrificed so much by cocooning and giving up their normal lives, largely ignored is a huge disappointment and shows how little their contributions to society, to communities and the economy are valued by the State. The young people, the workers and the others explicitly mentioned will all be older people one day, and true leadership requires a life course approach to society, and an all-of-Government approach to ageing.”

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action, said, “Successive Governments have failed to adequately plan for our ageing population. We can see the result of this laid bare in the crisis that is happening during the COVID-19 pandemic which has placed many older people in precarious and vulnerable situations whether that is in residential care or at home lacking the supports they that they need. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael who between them have held power for over a decade have both the opportunity and responsibility to create a society where everyone in Ireland has the potential to age well. By framing a document that values youth and productivity over social solidarity it demonstrates a lack or even a basic grasp of the value of a life course approach to planning a society and an economy that serves all ages”.


Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland which have a combined membership of approximately 35,000 people campaigned during and after the General Election to call for an all-of-Government approach to ageing. While they recognise that there are elements of this framework that can be welcomed, such as a focus on efforts to reduce child poverty and disadvantage and broad commitments to progressive measures like flexible working and a living wage, it fails to take into account any kind of life course approach to society.



Age Action is calling for a Digital Allowance to support the Digital Inclusion of Older People and a Study on the Cost of Ageing in Budget 2021

(30 July 2020) 

Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation on ageing and older people is calling for Budget 2021 to include a digital allowance in the form of a €2.50 increase to the Telephone Support Allowance and a broadening of the eligibility criteria to support older people to access digital technology.

Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action said ‘Digital exclusion is a reality for at least 33% of people over the age of 65 with the associated cost being one of the barriers to access for older people. We know that communication costs have increased during COVID-19 as people became more reliant on digital communications as a means of communicating with family, health professionals, arranging essential services and addressing social isolation.  In the context of an increasing reliance on telehealth measures and public health advice, Age Action urges the Government to increase the Telephone Support Allowance, introduced in June 2018 at a weekly rate of €2.50, to €5 and for a broadening of the eligibility criteria which is narrowly confined to those getting the Living Alone Allowance who are also eligible for the Fuel Allowance.’

Government services now actively prefer transactions to be digital under a “Digital First”approach, encouraging people to carry out their tax returns, and apply to r enew their driving licences and passports online. The Public Service ICT Strategy prioritises the digitisation of ‘the main existing citizen and business transactional services across Public Services’. There is an increasing reliance on digital channels to provide information by both the public and private sector which undermines people’s ability to access information which was very evident during the height of the pandemic. In a recent CSO survey of households of those over 60 and not online, the second greatest challenge to people who said they needed access to broadband, after lack of digital skills, was the perceived prohibitive cost.

‘Older people are being left behind because they do not have adequate access or skills to engage with digital services or participate in the digital economy; providing a digital allowance as well as investing in one-to-one digital literacy training that meets the needs of older people, is critical to bridging the digital divide. The new National Digital Skills Strategy committed to under the Programme for Government will have budgetary implications; Budget 2021 should begin to support older people to keep up’ Connolly said.