Friday, September 21, 2012

Children's Rights Referendum in the context of past failures of the Irish State

Nora Bennis raises a vital question, which is central to the debate on the Children’s Rights Referendum and yet it seems to be either ignored or sidelined by an unquestioning or biased media.
Nora writes:
On more careful reading of the wording of the Children’s Referendum, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe this referendum will succeed in preventing the recurrence of the horrors of the past.  In fact, it could lead to many more and far worse abuses of children because there is absolutely nothing in the wording to show how children will be protected from the State if it fails in its NEW constitutional duty towards Irish children.

Nowhere does it say who or what will supply the place of the State in cases where the State or third parties “fail in their duty” towards the nation’s children.  And fail they will as sure as night follows day.

It is so true that hardly any Irish person needs to be reminded of the horrors inflicted on generations of vulnerable children in the past.  But it is also true that hardly any Irish person needs to be reminded that it was the State and state agents that were primarily responsible in the past for removing thousands of children from their parents and placing them in institutions where they were physically and sexually abused. 
There is no doubt but that the Irish State bears grave responsibility for past failures to respect both the family and the most basic right of every child, to be raised in his or her own family.