Ciaran Mullooly, RTE’s Midlands Correspondent, officially launched the Leitrim Age Friendly County Initiative which was attended by more than 150 people from Active Age Groups and support organizations working with and on behalf of older people in Leitrim in the Bush Hotel, Carrick on Shannon last week.
The Age Friendly Counties Programme is a national initiative aimed at developing an ‘age friendly county programme’ in all Local Authority areas in the country.
In Leitrim the initiative is being spearheaded by a newly established Alliance Board which has representation at the most senior level from Leitrim County Council, Leitrim County Development Board, the Health Service Executive, An Garda Siochána, Leitrim Development Company, County Leitrim Vocational Education Committee, Leitrim County Enterprise Board, National University of Ireland, Galway, the Irish Farmers Association and an Older Person’s Representative.
In her welcome address Leitrim County Manager and Chair of the Alliance Board Ms. Jackie Maguire outlined that the overarching goal of the Programme for Leitrim is to make the county a great place in which to grow old in. She emphasized that ‘The voice of the older person will be at the heart of this initiative in Leitrim and the development of an Age Friendly County Strategy for Leitrim will be primarily focused on delivering real change initiatives on the ground which will have a positive impact on all citizens in the county as they grow old’.
In launching the initiative award winning Broadcaster and Journalist Ciaran Mullooly gave a ringing endorsement to the initiative given the latest census figures for Leitrim which revealed that nearly 15% of the population of the county is 65+ and 33% aged 50+. In the context of these figures he advised that the time for planning for an ageing population is now. Ciaran invited those attending the launch to really engage with the consultation process as it is important for older people to speak up for what they want to see in the strategy.
The event featured presentations from the National Age Friendly Counties Programme Manager, Catherine Mc Guigan, Professor Eamon O’ Shea from the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology NUI, Galway and a member of the Leitrim Alliance Board and Eva Beirne from the Louth Older Person’s Forum. Louth was the first county in Ireland to set up the initiative.
Later on that day a comprehensive consultation of older people and their advocates took place which gathered information on what matters to older people in County Leitrim. This feedback along with that gathered through further consultations which will take place in the county over the next couple of months will be used to inform the development of an Age Friendly Strategy for Leitrim.
In closing the event Leitrim County Manager and Chair of the Alliance Board Ms. Jackie Maguire thanked all those who were involved in organizing the event which was sponsored by Leitrim County Council, Leitrim Development Company and the Health Service Executive. She remarked that she was heartened by the large attendance at the event which highlighted the importance of the initiative for the county and on behalf of the Alliance Board committed to working with older people and their advocates over the next number of months to develop and deliver an Age Friendly County Strategy for Leitrim.