His Excellency President Michael D Higgins opens the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations

09 February 2012

“There is something extraordinarily natural, imaginatively and ethically superior when you have solidarity between generations” His Excellency President Michael D Higgins opens the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations Dublin Castle.

President Michael D Higgins called on older people to realise their potential at the launch of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations in Dublin Castle this morning. “If ageing is to be a positive experience it must be accompanied by opportunities to realise the potential of all people and to participate in all facets of society. This is the essence of active ageing” the President said.

Speaking to delegates from all over the country, who will be celebrating the Year with an impressive number of events, he continued with the message: “The Year also provides an opportunity to send a clear and strong message that active ageing is not meant for older people alone, it is of relevance to everyone in Ireland no matter what age he or she may be”.

President Higgins said that, during his 14 months campaigning for the Presidency, nobody -- younger or older -- had asked for anything at the expense of another generation. “There is in the people a fine ethical balance of wanting inter-generational solidarity, he said. “This is something that is natural. The year enables us to have a vision celebrating ageing and valuing contributions from all ages."

Ronan Toomey, Office for Older People, National Coordinator of the Year said the opening event was just one of a number of national seminars his office will host throughout the Year. “We will be encouraging people of all ages to take part, enter into dialogue with each other and ultimately foster and build on the contact and support between generations that already exists in Ireland”, he said.

“While the Office for Older People in the Department of Health is responsible for organising the Year, we wanted this to be a collaborative process. The response from the NGO sector and colleagues in other Government Departments has been very encouraging. There is a real sense of partnership in the planning and delivery of events taking place around the country throughout the Year”, he continued.

Mary Cunningham, Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland, said that this was just the beginning of an exciting year of events celebrating the great work carried out by younger and older people together. “This intergenerational contact is so positive. It leads to more realistic images of older people and younger people and puts young people at the forefront of challenging ageism”, she said

This is the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations which calls on everyone to reflect on how Europeans are living longer and staying healthier than ever before — and to realise the opportunities that represents. People of all ages can enjoy an extensive programme of events taking place in Ireland throughout the year. Details are available at www.activeageing.ie.

A key message for the Year in Ireland is that you are never too old or too young to engage with life and its many opportunities.