Parties warned by elderly voters

Groups representing half a million elderly voters have warned political parties they will receive no backing unless they create a cabinet-level minister for older people, and guarantee significant pension rises.

The newly set up Earn Our Vote umbrella group underlined the price of the ‘grey vote’ yesterday, saying Government has so far been sorrowfully lacking in ensuring the sector receives the support it needs.

Elderly care advocates — backed by Age Action Ireland, ALONE, the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, Third Age Ireland, and other groups — yesterday outlined their requirements for any candidate to be given support.

And, while accepting they do not fully trust pre-election promises claiming “they’ll promise you everything before an election”, the groups plan to list the names of those who agree to the proposals on their new website, effectively naming and shaming those who do not back their plans.

Under the Earn Our Vote campaign, they want the next government to appoint a cabinet-level minister for older people, indicating the current junior minister role held by Kathleen Lynch failed to ensure issues are addressed.

At the launch of the campaign, Age Action Ireland head of advocacy Justin Moran said the €3 pension increase and Christmas bonus increase in budget 2016 fell far short of addressing repeated cuts since 2009.

He said it is not unusual to have a minister to look after services for older services, as well as reforms, as a similar system is already in place in countries like New Zealand and Canada.

Asked whether the half a million voters over the age of 65 trust pre-election promises, Active Retirement Ireland president Mai Quaid said bluntly: “They’ll promise you everything before an election.”

At a separate event, Fianna Fáil senator Thomas Byrne said the current Government has “shafted” older people, but declined to confirm if his own party will agree to the proposals.

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