Press Release

Máire Hoctor T.D., Minister for Older People opens the Final International Conference of Citizen First.. using Technology to include All citizens, in Ennis, Co Clare.

Máire Hoctor T.D., Minister for Older People today (26th September, 2008) opened the Final International Conference of Citizen First…using Technology to include All citizens, in Ennis, Co Clare.

This Conference is aimed at public, local & voluntary stakeholders working on providing solutions to social exclusion in our communities by exploring the benefits of Information Communications Technologies.

The Conference is the final event of the CitizenFirst Project which has involved the collaboration between four North West Europe Regions of Mid-West-Ireland, Cambridgeshire-UK, Eindhoven-The Netherlands and West Flanders-Belgium.

In addressing the conference, the Minister acknowledged that older people are the least likely to use, and therefore benefit from technologies.“The statistics bear this out. Just over 460,000 people aged 65 or over lived in Ireland at the last census (2006). Of those aged 65 to 74 only 18% had used a computer or accessed the internet. When you look at everyone over 65, I believe the figure is closer to 1 in 10, so up to 9 out of ten older people are missing out. That should be a cause for concern. It is – because the internet as a tool can offer so much to older people, and they don’t need to be missing out.” Minister Hoctor went on to say “We need firstly to show them that the technology has some thing relevant to offer them that will benefit them in a real way. Secondly, we need to dispel the common perception that it is complicated or difficult to use.”

The Minister also applauded the focus on the citizen as the theme of the conference.“One thing is crucial and it is central to the theme of this conference, the need to focus on the citizen and their needs. You are right to do that, because our objective needs to be to get the technology working for people. Sharing info on what works is so important, but it is not always done. It is an important aspect of this Citizen First initiative, one which I fully expect will benefit further from this conference.”

Minister Hoctor concluded by wishing the delegates well for the remainder of the worthwhile and important conference.

The Minister’s speech can be read here