APPOINTED: Commissioner for Older People

First Minister, Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness today announced the appointment of Eddie Lynch as the new Commissioner for Older People.

First Minister, Arlene Foster said: “Older people in Northern Ireland play an important role in our society and it is important they have a champion to make their voices heard. Eddie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the job having dedicated much of his working life to championing the rights of older people. Eddie will add value, bring expertise and ensure issues for older people in Northern Ireland get the attention they deserve.” 

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: “People are living longer, which is a good thing but it means we must make sure older people feel valued, appreciated and have access to the opportunities services and support they require.

“It is important older people have an accessible and strong advocate who will reflect their needs and wishes enabling them to live dignified and fulfilled lives. Eddie Lynch gained considerable experience as Chief Executive of Age Sector Platform which will serve him well as he takes up this important role.”

The Ministers paid tribute to the former Commissioner for Older People: “We thank Claire Keatinge for all her efforts over the past four years. Claire worked hard to make her presence known to older people and during her time as Commissioner, saw a range of initiatives taken forward and we wish her well in her future career.”

This post is a full time appointment for a period of four years, which may be renewed for a further period of four years, and would also be subject to satisfactory performance.

Eddie Lynch will take up his post on 14 June 2016. The salary is £75,000 per annum.

Notes to editors:

1. The principal aim of the Commissioner for Older People is to promote and safeguard the interests of older people.

2. The Commissioner has a series of duties that he must perform.

These include:

  • Promote an awareness of matters relating to the interests of older people and of the need to safeguard those interests;
  • Keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of the law and practice relating to the interests of older people;
  • Keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of the services provided to older people by relevant authorities (a relevant authority is the name given in the Commissioner for Older People Act for organisations that are mainly publicly funded bodies like Government Departments, Councils, Health Trusts and both statutory and private nursing and residential care homes);
  • Promote the provision of opportunities for, and the elimination of discrimination against, older people;
  • Encourage best practice in the treatment of older people;
  • Promote positive attitudes towards older people and encourage participation by older people in public life;
  • Advise the Assembly, the Secretary of State, the Executive and a relevant authority on matters concerning the interests of older people;
  • Take reasonable steps to make older people aware of the existence and functions of his office and its location;
  • Take reasonable steps to encourage older people to communicate with the Commissioner and his staff and to seek the views of older people; and
  • Ensure that the Commissioner’s services are available, as far as is practicable, at a place convenient for older people.

3. The Commissioner has a wide range of promotional, advisory, educational, legal and investigatory functions and powers and duties to be deployed in the interests of older people, both generally and individually. The Commissioner has a role in promoting and safeguarding the interests, advancing equality, challenging discrimination and empowering and enabling the voice of older people in Northern Ireland.

4. The appointment has been made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPANI) Code of Practice.

5. The appointment attracts a salary of £75,000 and the term of appointment is for four years with the possibility of one renewal for a further period of four years.

6. 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 the appointees to be published. Eddie Lynch has not declared any political activity in the last five years.

7. Eddie is currently the Chief Executive of Age Sector Platform, a post he has held since 2008. Prior to this he was Head of Consumer Affairs in the Consumer Council from 2006 – 2008.

8. Eddie Lynch does not hold any other public appointments.