The National Council on Ageing and Older People was established by the Minister for Health on the 19th March 1997. The new body succeeded the National Council for the Elderly (January 1990 to March 1997) and the National Council for the Aged (June 1981 to January 1990), both of which had been administered by the National Social Services Board. The new Council was established as a statutory body, with its own independent legal and administrative status. This signified a considerable long-term commitment on the part of the State towards the provision of research and advice on ageing and older people in Ireland.
The terms of reference of the new Council included a strategic role which extended its work from pure research into the realms of policy development. In addition, other tasks were specified including liaison work with other agencies; the provision of information to other agencies and to the public; the provision of advice to the Minister for Health and Children and other ministers; and a direct involvement in and the promotion of a better understanding of ageing and older people in Ireland.