The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge, has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to bring forward legislation that would protect older people from age discrimination on a range of issues, including provision of health care.

The Commissioner made her remarks following the publication of research by Queen's University Belfast which showed that older people are being denied proper access to cancer care, often as a result of their age.

Commissioner Claire Keatinge said:

"We are an ageing society here in Northern Ireland, with more and more people living longer, healthier lives than ever before. And older people should be afforded the same rights as everyone else to allow them to do this.

"Protection from discrimination on the grounds of age is a vital part of how our society should respect and reassure people of all ages, but particularly older people.

"The fact that older people can now be lawfully discriminated to the extent that they can be denied life improving or life saving treatment is shocking, and sets a dangerous precedent that older people are somehow less deserving of the highest level of care and treatment.

"The current Programme for Government has a commitment to introduce legislation to protect people from age discrimination in relation to the provision of Goods, Facilities and Services, however we have yet to see any progress on this matter.

"I have written to Junior Minister's Bell and McCann, who have responsibility for equality and older people, to express my concern at the lack of progress on this critical issue.

"I would urge the Executive to introduce anti-age discrimination legislation without further delay so as to ensure that older people are protected from age discrimination and that they can enjoy the same rights and protections as other age groups."