Press Release

Minister Callely praises the contribution of Older people to Irish Life

Mr Ivor Callely T.D. Minister of State for Services for Older People, in a Christmas message, praised the contribution of older people to Irish society in the past and expressed the hope that older citizens will continue to participate fully and actively in the years to come. Noting that almost 440,000 of the total population is currently aged 65 or over, the Minister paid special tribute to the contributions which older people continue to make as volunteers in organisations of all kinds, as carers of sick relatives, friends of neighbours, and as child-minders in their own families.

“In a society in which youth has such a high profile, it is perhaps so easy to forget the enormous capital generated in so many different ways by our older citizens. They contribute their time, energy and skills and bring maturity and experience, especially in relation to the very complex world” stated the Minister.

The Minister also stated that “At this busy time of year for many of us, we want also to try to remember those older people -neighbours, friends, even relatives – who may be facing a lonely time over the Christmas period. I am particularly struck by the statement of one of our older citizens, (as reported in research carried by the National Council on Ageing and older People), that ´loneliness is worse that hunger´. I would therefore encourage anyone who is able to do so, to spend some time with an older person this Christmas, and especially in rural areas, to look out for any older neighbour who may be living alone”.

The Minister noted that the National Council on Ageing and Older People was a major source of information of all kinds on ageing and older people in Ireland and suggested that it would be worth while for anyone who can do so to access the website of the National Council to discover some very interesting facts and figures about our older citizens. One of the most interesting findings in recent times relates to demographic change in the Irish population. Projections prepared for the Council indicate that although our population will age more rapidly than before, in the coming decades Ireland will still have a younger age profile than most of our larger European neighbours including Italy, Germany, France and Spain, all of whom are already failing to replace their populations through their own indigenous birth rates. Certainly, and thankfully, there will be greater numbers of older people in our population in the years ahead, but we will experience nothing like the rapid rates of ageing already evident in other European states.

It is very important to remember that a cornerstone of current Government social policy is the creation of a ´society of all ages´, a society in which nobody is marginalized as a consequence of being old of disabled or for any reason. We owe a particular debt of gratitude to our older citizens because there is no doubt that we would never have achieved the economic success of the past decade or more without the contributions they have made over the years, stated the Minister.