Ireland becomes first EU State to commit to developing an age friendly society

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On Thursday, 27 November 2014,  the Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, New Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, and representatives of the country’s 31 local authorities gathered in Dublin to declare Ireland’s united commitment to creating an age friendly State. At a civic ceremony held in Dublin’s City Hall, Taoiseach Enda Kenny witnessed the signing of the Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities in Europe 2013 by 10 local authorities. The occasion marks the full engagement of all 31 authorities to taking actions which will improve the quality of life of older people in our cities and counties. The Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities was initially developed in collaboration between the World Health Organisation, the Ageing Well Network (now known as Age Friendly Ireland) and the International Federation on Ageing, on foot of the 1st International Conference on Age-Friendly Cities which was held in Dublin in 2011. The Declaration expresses the clear and strong commitment of political leaders to champion actions which improve the lives of older people.

To date the Declaration has been signed by a host of international cities including New York, Mexico, Manchester, Edinburgh and Seoul. The 10 local authorities who will sign the Declaration on Thursday join 21 authorities who have already signed, making Ireland the first EU State to declare a national commitment to creating a country where older people are valued and respected, and where their needs are recognised and addressed.

Lord Mayor Christy Burke, said: ‘’The Dublin Declaration is modelled on the Barcelona Declaration adopted by European Cities in 1995. This Declaration set the disability rights agenda across Europe. The Dublin Declaration is now set to do the same for older citizens. One reality we will all face is the reality of growing older. Every one of us has friends and family who are experiencing the joys, and the challenges, of growing older.  A society that forgets to respect and cherish the ageing is a society that loses its humanity.  Today’s signing ceremony and the active participation by cities and counties across Ireland in the Age Friendly Programme will contribute much to our common goal of building a more age-friendly Ireland.’’

Commenting ahead of Thursday’s ceremony, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “The signing of the Dublin Declaration by all 31 local authorities is a significant achievement and affirms Ireland’s commitment to creating an inclusive, equitable society for all citizens. Through the National Positive Ageing Strategy, this Government has set out a vision for an Ireland which not only prepares for the implications of demographic changes, but also celebrates individual and population ageing. “This is an investment in all of us.  If we are lucky, we will live into our older years after a lifetime of experience, of work and making our contribution, be it in paid employment, rearing a family or as a volunteer in the community. We might have a few more wrinkles but inside we are the same person with the same intensity of emotional and psychological need as we ever had. This declaration seeks to uphold that personal power, that choice and dignity, and for that reason alone, it is an excellent innovation.”

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Christy Burke and An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD at the Dublin Declaration in Dublin City Hall, 27th November 2014

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Christy Burke and An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD at the Dublin Declaration in Dublin City Hall, 27th November 2014

Hugh O’Connor, CEO of Age Friendly Ireland said: “Many of the factors that contribute to a good quality of life for older people and to the creation of communities in which ageing can be a positive experience, are influenced at local level. The Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme brings together local government, non-governmental sectors and older people to identify issues which impact on the older person within the community in which they live. “The goals and objectives of the National Positive Ageing Strategy and the Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme align in a number of important ways. The Programme can play a key role in supporting the pursuit and realisation of the vision set out in the National Positive Ageing Strategy.”

The signing ceremony will include a keynote address from An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD along with speeches by Lord Mayor Christy Burke; Chair of the City and County Management Association, Conn Murray; Chair of Age Friendly Ireland; Brendan Kenny; and Mr Bob Gilbert, Chair of the Cavan Older Peoples Forum. A copy of the Dublin Declaration and a full list of international signatories is available on request.

To read the speeches from the event and to download copy of the programme, please click on the relevant links below: Dublin Declaration ProgrammeAn Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny T.DLord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Christy Burke and Mr. Bob Gilbert, Chair of the Older Peoples Forum, Cavan