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No room for complacency about the state of ‘all the children of the nation’. September 29, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Jacky Jones in the Irish Times is always worth reading – she is arguably the most radical columnist on that paper though perhaps not regarded as such because she writes in the Life & Style/Health sections. Her column today is particularly useful where she asks a few questions about the ‘cherishing all the children of the nation’ line from the Proclamation and how that is now being made part and parcel of Proclamation Day, March 2016, where schools will raise the flag and read that section of the Proclamation.

She notes that the rhetoric is undercut by the historical and contemporary reality – and offers a number of examples, including this:

Children’s rights were trampled on from the beginning [of the state]. From 1922 to 1987, births had to be registered as legitimate or illegitimate. It took 65 years to change the law.

And she notes that this had real consequences in terms of health outcomes and mortality rates for those who were ‘registered’ as ‘illegitimate’, or for the poor or for Traveller children. She also notes that there was general public and political indifference, that the ratification of the UDHR and so on made little or no difference – The Magadalene laundries, orphanages and other institutions continued into living memory, in some instances those latter rife with sexual predators, many drawn from the clergy.

And she notes that today although the situation is much better there are still numerous deficits, and some are worsening.

The Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2015 awarded the Government an overall C grade (satisfactory attempt, but children still left wanting). They awarded an F (fail) for child poverty and D pluses (barely acceptable performance) for the right to health, equality and nondiscrimination.

And:

Schools provide free teaching, not free education; parents pay for everything else. Assaulting children, euphemistically called smacking, is still permitted by law. Levels of child poverty have doubled since 2008. Children are stuck in direct provision. More and more families are becoming homeless.

Given our discussions on the history of this state last week it is telling to see yet again how de facto indifference manifests itself after that appalling historical catalogue of cruelty, abuse and ill-treatment. There’s every point in attempting to get the state to live up to the rhetoric of the Proclamation – but that involves the state doing much more than saying.

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1. Ed - September 29, 2015

It doesn’t make the treatment of children by the Irish state any less disgraceful, but the ‘cherish’ line from the Proclamation is obviously a reference to Ulster Protestants, not children. Of all the historical misunderstandings in circulation, it’s probably the least harmful, but all the same …

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WorldbyStorm - September 29, 2015

That’s true and it raises interesting questions about the psychology of the shift to a different usage (and perhaps how some simply by saying it was focused on children managed to avoid engaging with the reality of those children).

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