Posts Tagged ‘ISCP’
Annual Parliament Meeting (APM) 2011
in the Liberty Hall Theatre & Conference Centre
from 1.45pm on Friday 11 March
to 1.00pm Saturday 12 March 2011
The Annual Parliament provides the Parliament’s 400 affiliated member organisations with an opportunity to promote the views of older people, to set policy for the Parliament and to elect officers for the coming year.
Remarks by President McAleese at the Annual Parliament Meeting of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, 26th March 2010
Dia dhíbh go léir inniu. Tá an-áthas orm bheith anseo libh ar an ócáid speisialta seo. Míle bhuíochas dibh as an gcuireadh agus an fáilte a thug sibh dom.
This Parliament is one of a number of Senior Citizens Parliaments across the EU, providing access to political decision-making at the highest level and enhancing the coordinated and collective voice of older people, in particular those at risk of social exclusion. It only exists because you care about the quality of life of our senior citizens and care enough to get involved, get organized and insist on being heard. Thanks to your individual sense of responsibility and collective efforts, this Parliament has become a recognized and necessary centre of gravity right at the forefront of representing the distinctive needs and perspectives of older people at local, national and international levels. I thank you for giving older people such a structured and effective opportunity to engage actively on the many issues that affect your day-to-day lives.
They say that with age comes wisdom. A lot of other things come along too, things that can change a person’s context and priorities considerably. Among the images I have from my teenage days is the memory of the rehabilitation of a small local park into which benches were specially put for the first time for seniors. It was a kindly well-intentioned thought but it carried a subliminal message that those of advancing years were expected to be sedentary and to be spectators. A more recent image points up the changed expectations and ambitions of Ireland’s seniors – that is the opening of the first Tone Zone, a public outdoor gym for seniors in Dunshaughlin, thanks to Meath County Council’s Tom Dowling and the redoubtable Mary Nally. That good idea has caught on all over Ireland so strongly that the equipment once manufactured in China is now manufactured here. The “grey pound/euro” and “grey ambition” are showcasing their collective power and their intention to use their lives to the full in new and imaginative ways that enhance its quality and its opportunities.
Budget minus 1 – Tuesday 8 December
“On the last day before the budget, Older People asked of Brian …”
€10 increase in pension
The vision in the current social partnership agreement “Towards 2016” is that “Every older person would have access to an income which is sufficient to sustain an acceptable standard of living.”
Over 50% of Older People in Ireland are dependent on the state pension as their main source of income. The European Pensions Barometer Report has highlighted that Ireland has the second worst state pension in the EU, coming only ahead of the UK. The report indicated that our pension equals 32.5% of the average working wage, while the average across Europe is 60%.
We recognise that times are hard and that the government faces difficult decisions ahead of the budget. But older people have worked hard all their lives and have paid taxes & are entitled to an adequate standard of living in their old age.
The McCarthy Report recommends that Social Welfare Rates should be decreased by 5%, due the reduction in the consumer price index. But the goods and services that have fallen are not the ones purchased by Older People – the cost of living for Older People has not been reduced.
We therefore call on the government to increase the pension by €10 per week. The withdrawal of the additional week’s payment in December has resulted in a 2% decrease in the average pension in 2009.
Ireland’s Older People
Budget minus 7 – Wednesday 2 December
“On the seventh day before the budget, Older People asked of Brian …”
Re-instate the pensioners Christmas payment
We strongly urge you to reconsider the withdrawal of the extra week’s payment for pensioners.
This payment provided many vulnerable Older People with additional income to help with the cost of heating and fuel bills during the long winter period.
Older People have become dependent on this extra payment in the dead of winter to help with their fuel, heating and lighting bills. The Central Statistics Office has found that since August 2008 the cost of natural gas has increased by 6.5%, bottled gas has risen by 6.6% and solid fuel by 6.3%. If the proposed carbon tax is introduced in this year’s budget we know that these prices will be further increased.
Hypothermia is a major difficulty for many Older People and causes a number of deaths each year.
We know that almost 10% of pensioner households experience fuel poverty in the winter months. This is an unnecessary type of poverty in today’s society; no person should be forced to endure an Irish winter without adequate heat.
While this payment is termed a “Bonus” the fact is that Older People are reliant on this additional payment to help defray these additional winter costs.
Ireland’s Older People
The Irish Senior Citizens Parliament appreciated Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s understanding of the difficulties facing older people in his statement of November 18 on the importance of the State Pension and the other support schemes for older people such as the travel, TV licence and telephone allowance.
We in particular noted where Taoiseach Cowen stated that “we should also be mindful that there is a large amount of people who don’t have a lot of disposable income … and, therefore, rely solely on the state pension”. He also went on to say that he was “proud of the provision we made for pensioners during the good years. It is not my objective to undo all of that good work now”.
The ISCP were pleased to note An Taoiseach’s assurances that there will be no dismantling of the social infrastructure, including various schemes which are in place to support Older People’s health & welfare, in addition to pensions. “An Taoiseach’s remarks – in particular the further remarks on his webcast – demonstrate an understanding of the various schemes and services, put in place over decades, which protect Older People’s dignity such as the travel and fuel schemes.
Máiréad Hayes, the Parliament’s CEO stated: “We are conscious that we face a difficult situation but it should be appreciated that we in the Parliament hear on a daily basis from Older People living in fear of what is to come.” We will hold An Taoiseach to his promise not to ‘undo the good work’ and to be ‘sensitive to the needs of our pensioners’.
“We would also like to say ‘thank you’ to all our member organisations regarding their lobbying efforts to defend their services & pensions. Keep up the good work in the couple of weeks remaining before Budget 2010”, exhorted Ms. Hayes.
The Irish Senior Citizens Parliament is concerned that the proposed prescription charge will place an increased financial burden on Older People.
Responding to the comments made by Minister for Health Mary Harney, Maíréad Hayes CEO of the Parliament has said that the proposed 50 cent charge per prescribed item could result in a hefty monthly charge for some Older People.
The Minister’s response is not a remedy for the over-prescribing of drugs that can only be resolved by those responsible for writing prescriptions.
We know that one in six medical card holders are prescribed 10 or more drugs, should this charge be introduced many Older People could face an additional charge of €5 or more per month.
Combined with the fact that Older People’s incomes have already been reduced by 2% this year due to the withdrawal of the Christmas Bonus, the Parliament fears that Older People will find it hard to meet these charges, or may be forced to stop taking their medication.
The Parliament would point out that there is a cumulative impact from a number of recent government decisions all of which are increasing the risk of poverty amongst Older People in Ireland.