Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White has called on the Government to immediately clarify which Minister of State has responsibility for Older People after the Cabinet today signed-off on removing the brief from the title of Minister Kathleen Lynch at the Department of Health.
Senator Mary White said: “There is considerable concern and confusion among groups working on behalf of older people regarding today’s announcement on Minister for State. In 2011 Minister Kathleen Lynch was appointed to the post of Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People however today the Minister has ‘Special Responsibility for Primary Care, Mental Health and Disability’.
“Last week the Taoiseach said he wanted Ireland to be the “best small country in the world in which to do business, raise a family and grow old with dignity and respect.” But the reality is older people have been hit very unfairly with regressive cuts to social supports by this Government and now they seem to have slipped off the radar entirely.
“Over seven years ago Fianna Fáil recognised the need for older people to be given a specific voice within the political structure of the country and we created the post of Minister of State for Older People, working across three departments, Health, Social Welfare and Environment. However for the last three years this Government has undermined that role, removing its function from the Department of Social Protection and today the role created by Fianna Fáil is barely recognisable.
“I share the concerns of the groups working with older people that this Government no longer sees their issues as key priorities. The number of people over the age of 65 is increasing by 20,000 a year, the age demographics of the country are shifting considerably and it is essential that the Government immediately clarifies this situation and restates its commitment to giving older people a voice in Government.”