As part of an initiative to make Dublin city more age-friendly, a dedicated Garda officer with responsibility for older people is to be appointed in every Garda station in the capital and high-visibility patrols are to be introduced in areas with high numbers of older people. The undertakings are intended to make older people feel safer when living in or visiting the capital.
The move is part of an extensive city-wide age-friendly partnership initiative being led by Dublin City Council and Age Friendly Ireland, which aims to make Dublin city a great place in which to grow old.
Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey, who represents An Garda Siochana on the Dublin City Age Friendly Alliance, said fear of crime is a very real issue for older people and can have significant impacts on their interaction with community life.
“An Garda Síochána wholly acknowledge that the fear of crime experienced by older people is real, and will endeavour to tackle and reduce the perception of poor personal safety through greater patrolling and wider engagement in line with the Age-Friendly Strategy 2014-2019. We will make every effort to ensure older persons are not restricting their activities through fear for their safety and support them in their interactions with An Garda Síochána,” the Commissioner said.
The Dublin City Age Friendly initiative forms part of a nationwide Age Friendly Cities and Counties programme which has been adapted from the World Health Organisation model and is being rolled out throughout the country by Age Friendly Ireland. To date, 26 local authorities have signed up to the programme and it is expected that by mid-2015, all 31 local authorities will have launched or committed to launch an age friendly strategy, making Ireland one of the first age friendly countries in the world.
Hugh O’Connor, CEO of Age Friendly Ireland, said the programme provides an opportunity for Ireland to address the challenges and benefits offered by our older population.
“We are all aware that people are living longer and that our older population is growing. The Central Statistics Office predicts that, over the next 30 years, the number of people in Ireland over the age of 65 will double and the number over 80 will quadruple. This changing demographic has major implications for public policy, service provisions, long-term planning, and society as a whole,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Traditionally Government policy has viewed population ageing as a challenge due to the financial implications for health care and pension costs. While these challenges do exist, there are also significant benefits to be gained from our older population. The Age Friendly Cities and Counties programme embraces the multi-faceted challenges and opportunities that ageing presents by providing a structure and supports which enable local authorities to take the lead in changing how ageing is viewed, and how services are planned and delivered,” he said.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke said: “As Chair of Dublin’s Age Friendly Alliance, I am very pleased that Dublin City Council in conjunction with its key statutory, private and community partners are so supportive of Dublin City’s first Age Friendly Strategy. This strategy is Dublin’s opportunity to value our older citizens and to learn from their life experience. The development of this strategy is indeed urgent and timely. It will focus on improving the quality of older people’s lives in Dublin over the next five years, creating an age friendly capital city to be proud of, for visitors and Dubliners alike.”