Thoughts on the Children’s Referendum October 25, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics.
Many thanks to CMK for the following which I’ve copied and pasted from comments under the thread here.
Is anyone else uneasy about the Children’s Referendum? It’s not the referendum itself, which is all to the good and an improvement on current arrangements. No, what is making me uneasy is the referendum is being conducted at a time when the austerity policies being enforced on this society will worsen, with varying degrees of intensity, both the life experience of many of today’s children and, coupled with the race to the bottom in working conditions and pay, will ensure that when these children do grow up and enter the workplace, they’ll do so under possibly quite savage terms and conditions.
It’s been discussed here before but there is a clear and conscious effort to adopt contradictory positions by the government political parties and the children’s NGO sector in this referendum. On the one hand, all are urging a ‘Yes’ and no-one would argue with them on that – that’s not really a ‘political’ question. Greater constitutional protection for children is urgently required. But, and it’s a significant but, they are all, simultaneously, committed to a policy agenda that they must know will impact dramatically on children. The children’s NGO’s recent, disgraceful, intervention on cutting child benefit, framed as a ‘fairer’ two tier system, belies a willingness to line up with the government on the austerity agenda that will compromise child welfare to a very significant, and damaging degree.
We’re a society where tens of thousands of children are schooled in pre-fabs in large classes; where we’re depriving children with special needs the assistance they require (on a phased basis but the intention is clear to run down SNA provision); where thousands more a schooled in buildings little better than glorified cattle sheds; where the wages and salaries of hundreds of thosands of parents are under incessant attack and cutting, negatively impacting on children’s life experience; where hundreds of thousands of families are facing the prospect of not being able to provide the little luxuries and treats that enhance children’s lives and where the basics (food and clothing etc) are now under threat; where what little direct transfers for children are under unrelenting attack with the intention, eventually, to remove them altogether; and, where tens of thousands of parents are being condemned to artificially maintained high levels of un- and under-employment so as satisfy ‘the market’. These are just some of the many problems impacting on children’s lives. All the while the government, NGO sector and media commetators are clappings themselves in the back over the referendum which will, undoubtedly, improve the constitutional and legal position of children, but will do nothing to shield children from the tsunami of austerity measures that are still to come.