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First Commissioner for Older People appointed

First Minister the Rt. Hon. Peter D. Robinson, MLA and the Minister exercising the functions of the deputy First Minister John O’Dowd, MLA have announced the appointment of Claire Keatinge as Northern Ireland’s first Commissioner for Older People.
Monday, 3 October 2011

Ms Keatinge, who is a former Director of the Alzheimer’s Society in Northern Ireland, will take up her appointment on 14 November 2011.

In announcing the appointment the First Minister said: “The appointment of a Commissioner for Older People is a groundbreaking development and will be widely welcomed. This appointment fulfils our Programme for Government commitment to 'deliver a strong independent voice for older people'.

“With the exception of Wales, nowhere else in Europe has a Commissioner of this type. As Commissioner, Claire will play a key role in challenging discrimination against older people, promoting positive attitudes towards older people and encouraging their participation in public life. I wish her every success in the post.”

The acting deputy First Minister said: “This is a great day for our older citizens who now have a strong voice to champion causes which affect their everyday lives. The creation of this post is another example of a local Assembly responding to the needs of local people.

“I congratulate Claire on her appointment. She will be a dedicated focal point for all our older citizens and will have the statutory power and authority to challenge and take action on their behalf.”

Notes to editors:

1. Ms Keatinge’s appointment will be for a term of 4 years and she will receive a salary of £60,000 pa.

2. Prior to her appointment as Commissioner for Older People, Ms Keatinge was the Director of the Alzheimer’s Society in Northern Ireland and was responsible and accountable for services, external affairs and promoting the rights of people with dementia. Previous to this she was the Director (Community Development and Health) for Age Concern NI and was responsible for leading health promotion and public health work with older people through community development

As Commissioner for Older People Ms Keatinge will have a wide range of promotional, advisory, education and general investigatory functions, duties and powers to be deployed in the interest of older people both generally and individually.

Her appointment as Commissioner for Older People was made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland’s Code of Practice.

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published.

Ms Keatinge has declared that she has not been involved in any political activity.

3. All media enquiries to OFMDFM Press Office on 028 9037 8142. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440.