FINE Gael has called for the immediate removal of “offensive and inappropriate posters” which form part of a state-sponsored campaign to combat ageism.
The Health Service Executive, the Equality Authority and the National Council for Older People launched the posters as part of the “Say No to Ageism Week”, which runs until Friday.
The posters depict four older people, each of whom has a word such as “burden”, “grumpy” or “useless” printed across their face. The last image is of a young person who, by contrast, has only their name and no stigmatising labels printed across their face.
“What’s your attitude to ageism?” the posters ask.
Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter said the posters were “extraordinarily insensitive” and called on the HSE and others, to remove them.
“The thinking behind this poster campaign is seriously flawed,” he said. “There is a very real danger that these posters will foster the negative image of older people that the agencies involved are attempting to combat.
“Imagine the entirely justified public outcry if a campaign purporting to be anti- racist used comparable posters with derogatory terms plastered across the faces of people from ethnic or religious minorities.”
He said the posters were “a very cruel and insulting image to present to older people, and in particular to any older person who may be feeling depressed or lonely”. He expressed dismay that “public funds, including the tax of older people, have been used in such a negative and discriminatory way”.
But in a joint statement, the Equality Authority and National Council said it was “important to expose and draw out” how ageism stereotyped older people.
“The public awareness campaign… is therefore designed to expose ageism, to highlight how unacceptable ageism is and to promote a new culture where people’s capacity and attributes are not deemed to be determined by their age,” the statement said.
“The posters contrast how we label and dehumanise older people with how we accord a personal identity and full character to younger people.”
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