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Making Older People Equal

Making Older People Equal: Reforming the Law on Access to Services in Northern Ireland
Professor Brice Dickson and Dr. Lisa Glennon

In 2009 Professor Brice Dickson and Dr Lisa Glennon published a report which examined the laws of other common law countries to assess whether, and how, the law of Northern Ireland should be reformed so as to better protect older persons against age discrimination when they are accessing goods, facilities and services. The research was funded by a 1-year grant from the Changing Ageing Partnership. It was mostly conducted through desk-top research but visits were also made to relevant agencies in Dublin, Washington DC and Melbourne.

The key findings of the research were as follows:

1. Northern Ireland is out of line with most other common law countries in not having a law which protects older people against discrimination when they are accessing goods, facilities and services.
2. Such laws operate fairly effectively in countries such as the Republic of Ireland, Canada and Australia.
3. Lessons can be learned from these countries as to how best to reform the law of Northern Ireland.

The report made the following key recommendations:

1. The Northern Ireland Assembly should create a law on this kind of age discrimination as quickly as possible.
2. Any such law should permit discrimination against older people only in very specific circumstances, but it should generally permit discrimination in favour of older people.
3. The law of Northern Ireland should be amended in other respects so as to help prevent this kind of age discrimination occurring in the first place.

A copy of the report is available by emailing b.dickson@qub.ac.uk