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16 October 2014
BBC NI - Eyewitness

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Seamus Lynch is the Public Affairs Officer for Help the Aged in Belfast Image of Seamus Lynch

When people talk about discrimination, it's mainly religious discrimination. However, over the years, that has changed and we've got onto the issue of gender and employment and all of that. Left behind has been age discrimination. Older people are being discriminated against in public policy: therefore, we have embarked upon a campaign, because by the year 2006 the Northern Ireland Assembly have to introduce a Single Equality Bill. It's a European directive and what we are saying is that contained within the Single Equality Bill there should be legislation to make age discrimination illegal.

The main reason why age discrimination hasn't been tackled is because there hasn't been legislation, because all those examples you give were likewise in employment before the legislation came in on employment. Now, we recognise that this is a long, hard struggle. Older people themselves on some occasions don't realise that they are being discriminated against - but let me give you some examples of how older people are discriminated against in public policy.

For example, an older person at 60 years of age is not allowed to purchase their own bungalow under Housing Executive sales policy. An older person wanting to pursue education - maybe someone made redundant at 50 or 55 - once they come 55, they are not afforded a student loan like others are. The women, for example, at 65 who would normally be called for breast cancer screening, that ceases immediately. The onus is then on them - and more women die of breast cancer over the age of 65. And there's other examples in the issue of mobility allowance, for example, where older people can apply for it right up to they're 64 and 364 days, but once they come 65, they can't qualify for it. When older people, you'd think, would need more assistance and mobility allowance.

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