Northern Ireland age discrimination laws ‘must be urgently strengthened’

A call has been made to urgently strengthen laws in Northern Ireland around age discrimination.

In a joint statement, Equality Commissioner Geraldine McGahey, Older People’s Commissioner Eddie Lynch and Age NI director Paschal McKeown warned people have no legal protection against age discrimination when accessing goods, facilities and services.

They said Northern Ireland is the only jurisdiction in the UK and Ireland without these protections, and it is important that age discrimination laws are urgently strengthened.

Proposals to extend age discrimination legislation in 2015 were unable to be agreed by the Executive at the time

The trio are set to take part in a discussion event around the issues in Belfast on Wednesday morning.

In a joint statement, they said: “We’ve had protection here against age discrimination in employment and in education since 2006.

“However, it is still not unlawful in Northern Ireland to discriminate against people on the grounds of their age when it comes to providing goods, facilities or services.

“So, at present, if someone discriminates against you in these areas because of your age, you have no legal right to challenge this treatment.

“We believe strongly that the age equality legislation here should be strengthened and updated to be at least as good as, and potentially even better than, the Equality Act 2010 which applies throughout Great Britain.

“Both the rest of the UK and Ireland have these protections in place. It is important that we close this legislative gap.

“It cannot be right that people here have less protection from age discrimination here than their peers in our nearest neighbouring countries.

“It’s really important that we work together to get this issue back on the agenda for our politicians.”