Saturday 7 December 2019

Brexit-fixated Britain is a country where Northern Ireland is no Province for old men seeking protection from elderly abuse

Northern Ireland is the smallest of the four nations which comprise Britain and behind the Welsh, Scots and English. It contains just 2.9% of the total population of Britain and 5.7% of the total area and has a population of 1.8 million.

Northern Ireland has also been without a functioning Executive Government since January 2017, when the two governing parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin, split in a bitter row. Although it has figured prominently in Britain's negotiations with the European Union over the question on the 'Northern Ireland Backstop', in fact, in a YouGov poll carried out in the rest of Britain in November indicated Four in 10 of those taking part said they "cared little", or "not at all", about Northern Ireland. A majority would rather have their preferred Brexit outcome than see Northern Ireland stay in the Union, which was true for both Remainers and Leavers.

The men and women of Northern Ireland would have every reason to feel unloved within Great Britain and the old people in Northern Ireland have every reason to feel unloved within their own borders.
Veronica Gray, the Director of the charity 'Action on Elder Abuse. Northern Ireland' has said : "Since the fall of the Assembly we've seen an increased reliance on charities to step in to meet the needs of the people. Our older population bore the brunt of the Troubles, and now they're being failed by the institutions designed to protect them. This cannot continue."

She said that safeguarding provisions for adults in Northern Ireland were "not fit for purpose" and old men and women there have been left "vulnerable to abuse" because of a lack of effective safeguarding legislation and the fact that the Province is the only part of Britain without specific adult protection laws. She said that : "We have legislation to protect children from abuse and animals from cruelty, but with a rapidly ageing population we remain the only part of the UK and Ireland without dedicated laws to protect older people from abuse, harm and exploitation."

She drew attention to :

the ongoing scandal involving allegations of abuse of patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

* the Dunmurry Manor Care Home which came under scrutiny after a damning report from the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland, called 'Home Truths', was published in June.

* a 2016 Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland Report which showed old men and women in Northern Ireland were at a higher risk of experiencing financial abuse than elsewhere in Britain.

* the fact that the Report showed that 21% of those over 60 years of age in Northern Ireland have reported being victim to financial abuse which compares with 0.7% of older people across Britain as a whole.

For the British Government, responsible for running Northern Ireland, The Department of Health said: "The Commissioner for Older People recommended the introduction of an adult safeguarding bill for Northern Ireland in his Home Truths Report. We also expect the independent review of events at Dunmurry Manor to be submitting a report to the Department soon, which will consider issues related to adult safeguarding. In response to those reviews we have been and will be considering what urgent steps we can take to strengthen adult safeguarding in Northern Ireland in the absence of a health minister and an assembly."

Eddie Lynch is the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland whose main role is to safeguard and promote the interests as old people. Sadly, however, old men and women in Northern Ireland, can't rest, assured that whatever Brexit-fixated Government is elected in the General Election next week, their health and well-being will be high on the agenda of their Government based many miles away in Westminster.

Veronica :

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