Written Answers. - Equality Legislation.

Finian McGrath

Question:

363 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether age discrimination is endemic in our society; and the plans he has to end this terrible reality. [10645/03]

The Employment Equality Act 1998 prohibits discrimination in relation to employment on nine grounds including age. The Equal Status Act 2000 prohibits discrimination on the same nine grounds in relation to access to and provision of goods and services. The age provisions of the Employment Equality Act apply to persons between the ages of 18 and 65 or over the minimum school leaving age and under 65 in the case of vocational training. Under the Equal Status Act the age ground refers to a person over 18 years with no upper age threshold applying.

The legislation provides a means of redress for anyone who considers that s/he has suffered unlawful discrimination. The Equality Authority has also been established to work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination and the promotion of equal opportunities.

The Employment Equality Act 1998 will be strengthened on the implementation of Directive 2000/78/EC – Framework Employment Directive – which provides a general framework for the prohibition of discrimination in relation to employment and occupation on grounds of religion and belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

The directive must be implemented by 2 December 2003. However, in order to take account of particular conditions, member states may, if necessary, have an additional three years from December 2003 to December 2006 to implement the provisions of the directive on age and disability grounds.

I am satisfied that the equality infrastructure put in place on the coming into force of the equality legislation is sufficiently resourced to respond to discrimination in our society whether in the workplace or elsewhere.

The Equality Authority, in order to address discrimination arising from systems and institutional behaviour, commissioned a report entitled Implementing Equality for Older People. This report examines the issue of ageism and puts forward recommendations for change which are based on a number of key principles including the need to give due regard to difference for older people in their particular situation, experience and identity.

A project team has been set up under the National Economic and Social Forum to assess implementation issues arising out of the recommendations of the report. I will be happy to examine the outcome of the project team's work on its completion.