Children's Rights Referendum is a game of political bluff

blacbloc

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Letter in today's Irish Examiner.

The situation is an instructive lesson on how the political class, despite the different colours on their jerseys, can unite against the true interests of the electorate.

It doesn’t appear to matter to any of them that, as with the disability legislation before it, the wording of the referendum does not guarantee a single child in Ireland a single enforceable right and that it is in reality about a transfer of power from parents and guardians to social workers and state bodies when it is well understood that they are neither funded adequately nor functioning to reliably safe standards — as the shocking fate of so many children in state and other care has demonstrated.

But there is at least some consistency in the situation.

Despite their oft-stated support for rights-based legislation up to 2005, all of the opposition parties refused to commit to making rights for people with disability (many of whom are children) non-negotiable policy when asked to do so before the last election.

So it is easy to understand why they are in so much happy agreement about the children’s rights referendum now — it doesn’t require them to make any real commitment to anything while they get to sound warm and caring about children at election time.



Read more: Children?s rights reduced to a game of political bluff | Irish Examiner
It's frustrating that the word 'rights' is bandied about so carelessly by politicians. They are abusing it so much it's almost beginning to lose its true meaning. We have to be careful not to allow any party to exploit the issue of rights for children and people with disability. Unless this referendum includes specific rights that children are guaranteed then it is meaningless.

The proposed referendum wording makes many references to 'guarantees' etc but the whole thing is fenced in from the outset by the statement that renders the ammendment aspirational. The good intentions are only to be implemented 'as far as is practicable'. It doesn't take a genuis to work out what a term like 'practicable' means to a Mary Harney.

Wording of proposed ammendment and further discussion here: http://www.politicalworld.org/showthread.php?t=291&highlight=Childrens'+Referendum
 
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blacbloc

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Real rights aren't spooks - they are a necessity if atrocities like the industrial school/clerical abuses are never to happen again. Certain people like children and disabled people who cannot take care of themselves have to be guaranteed a humane standard of living. The only way to assure that outcome is to legislate properly for it.
 

johnfás

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Real rights aren't spooks - they are a necessity if atrocities like the industrial school/clerical abuses are never to happen again. Certain people like children and disabled people who cannot take care of themselves have to be guaranteed a humane standard of living. The only way to assure that outcome is to legislate properly for it.
Irrespective of the merits of the amendment the fact is that the Government use it as a smokescreen which they pretend will "sort it". An amendment to the Constitution will not ensure that social care resources are properly resourced, or that foster homes are inspected, or that out of hours social workers are provided for. The reality is that there is a very large body of law which already exists to protect the rights of childrens (both by virtue of their being children, and also as citizens) and is perfectly enforceable - but for the fact that the Government makes a decision to use resources differently. You could alleviate the problems in respect of child protection without an amendment to the Constitution if you applied the laws we had, introduced some laws that do not require a Constitutional amendment (e.g. in respect of child protection for third party organisations) and provided resources. However, the Government would rather buy your attention with a children's rights referendum because the optics of it are far better.
 

laidback

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Irrespective of the merits of the amendment the fact is that the Government use it as a smokescreen which they pretend will "sort it". An amendment to the Constitution will not ensure that social care resources are properly resourced, or that foster homes are inspected, or that out of hours social workers are provided for. The reality is that there is a very large body of law which already exists to protect the rights of childrens (both by virtue of their being children, and also as citizens) and is perfectly enforceable - but for the fact that the Government makes a decision to use resources differently. You could alleviate the problems in respect of child protection without an amendment to the Constitution if you applied the laws we had, introduced some laws that do not require a Constitutional amendment (e.g. in respect of child protection for third party organisations) and provided resources. However, the Government would rather buy your attention with a children's rights referendum because the optics of it are far better.

+1
 

blacbloc

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Irrespective of the merits of the amendment the fact is that the Government use it as a smokescreen which they pretend will "sort it". An amendment to the Constitution will not ensure that social care resources are properly resourced, or that foster homes are inspected, or that out of hours social workers are provided for. The reality is that there is a very large body of law which already exists to protect the rights of childrens (both by virtue of their being children, and also as citizens) and is perfectly enforceable - but for the fact that the Government makes a decision to use resources differently. You could alleviate the problems in respect of child protection without an amendment to the Constitution if you applied the laws we had, introduced some laws that do not require a Constitutional amendment (e.g. in respect of child protection for third party organisations) and provided resources. However, the Government would rather buy your attention with a children's rights referendum because the optics of it are far better.

I don't disagree with much of that at all - the failures in child protection cases for example are largely a matter of not applying existing law. There is a critical lack of legislation that specifically requires accountability and consequences for failure and legilsation is also needed to ensure that funding is never allowed to fall below a certain standard of provision.

However, the disability legislation of 2004 and 2005 was a deliberate con job - it was drafted to specifically exclude ANY of the guarantees that the Disability Legislation Consultation Group were seeking - despite having been promised that the legislation would finally do what had been promised for decades. It's the same story with the children's referendum with one difference - it's being talked up by a coalition of politicians and social workers who say things like 'well it's a start'.

Articles 41 and 42 have been relied on by parents seeking to secure services for their children. The proposed changes would take that away and replace them with no tangilbe benefit children at all. The only thing that would be achieved is an increase in power for state agencies and organisations - which as you point out are badly funded and organised now. No additional funding is promised to accompany this ammendment. It seems incredible that at a time when the abject failures of state bodies in protecting and caring for children have been identified as endemic, that anyone would advocate for a transfer of greater powers to them at the expense of the rights and responsibilities of parents - the vast majority of whom do a brilliant job of caring for their children.
 

irish_bob

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Irrespective of the merits of the amendment the fact is that the Government use it as a smokescreen which they pretend will "sort it". An amendment to the Constitution will not ensure that social care resources are properly resourced, or that foster homes are inspected, or that out of hours social workers are provided for. The reality is that there is a very large body of law which already exists to protect the rights of childrens (both by virtue of their being children, and also as citizens) and is perfectly enforceable - but for the fact that the Government makes a decision to use resources differently. You could alleviate the problems in respect of child protection without an amendment to the Constitution if you applied the laws we had, introduced some laws that do not require a Constitutional amendment (e.g. in respect of child protection for third party organisations) and provided resources. However, the Government would rather buy your attention with a children's rights referendum because the optics of it are far better.
having an ubber PC liberal like fegus finlay leading the charge further enhances the optics , eilis o hanlon wrote an excellent article in this sindo regarding this matter last week , the thrust of her arguement being that a few comma,s added here or there to the constitution wont ensure social workers and guards taking action , too many proffesional hand ringers in the system at the moment who perfer to plead helplessness to effect change , a line added here or there wont change this
 

Sean O'Brian

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Real rights aren't spooks - they are a necessity if atrocities like the industrial school/clerical abuses are never to happen again. Certain people like children and disabled people who cannot take care of themselves have to be guaranteed a humane standard of living. The only way to assure that outcome is to legislate properly for it.
Since the state was responsible for, or at least complicit in, those atrocities, how does transferring power from parents over their own children to social workers and state bodies decrease the risk of it happening again?

It doesn't.
 

The Field Marshal

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Toland

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What precisely is it that the religious right have against a children's rights referendum?

They seem very set agin it. For the life of me I can't see how the very reasonable argument for protecting children's rights steps on the toes of the god botherers.

They're not worried about the state taking children out of their custody for preaching that practically all protestants (or catholics, or infidels or whatever you're having yourself) go to hell, are they?

Seriously?
 

johnfás

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What precisely is it that the religious right have against a children's rights referendum?

They seem very set agin it. For the life of me I can't see how the very reasonable argument for protecting children's rights steps on the toes of the god botherers.

They're not worried about the state taking children out of their custody for preaching that practically all protestants (or catholics, or infidels or whatever you're having yourself) go to hell, are they?

Seriously?
I have no idea. I am not unfavourable to such a referendum, depending on the wording thereof of course.

However, do you not agree, from your lofty distance, that the potential referendum is used as a smokescreen to avoid Governmental accountability in respect of child protection by not ensuring that the child protection regime which is permissible under the existing constitutional framework is put in place, resourced and enforced. That's the travesty, and what confidence should one have in that changing if the Constitution is amended? That is a totally different issue than how I, or any other, might vote in the referendum of course.

It is quite clear that the Government is exploiting the potential referendum to deflect from its failure to adequately provide for child protection under the current framework. For example, mandatory reporting for all third party organisations engaged in working with children does not require a Constitutional amendment - what makes people so certain that would be introduced even if there were a referendum? If the Government is so incompetent that it cannot do both, the first step for me would be to sort out our legislative regime, to resource child protection bodies and then to consider the Constitution. But the Government does it in reverse, and will probably never move beyond the Constitutional step (which is the least relevant) because it is the least costly financially and politically.
 
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Toland

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However, do you not agree, from your lofty distance, that the potential referendum is used as a smokescreen to avoid Governmental accountability in respect of child protection by not ensuring that the child protection regime which is permissible under the existing constitutional framework is put in place, resourced and enforced. That's the travesty, and what confidence should one have in that changing if the Constitution is amended? That is a totally different issue than how I, or any other, might vote in the referendum of course.
You mean it's being kicked around so politicians can be seen to be doing something?
Yes. That would seem to be the reason.

If there is any argument that such a constitutional change will have the effect of preventing adequate resources being dedicated to child protection, I'll vote against it. And I think it'll make no difference at all if it does not clearly place an ineludible responsibility on the state to provide such adequate resources.
 

The Field Marshal

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Still waiting on the alleged agreed proposed wording of the amendment?

Does it exist?

If it does not, is this thread worthwhile?
 

Goban Saor

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Real rights aren't spooks - they are a necessity if atrocities like the industrial school/clerical abuses are never to happen again. Certain people like children and disabled people who cannot take care of themselves have to be guaranteed a humane standard of living. The only way to assure that outcome is to legislate properly for it.
Rights dont exist. There are imaginary. People die. Get over it.

What precisely is it that the religious right have against a children's rights referendum?
Transference from parents authority to state authority is the general concern. The state isnt fit to shovel, well, poop!
 

Toland

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Rights dont exist. There are imaginary. People die. Get over it.



Transference from parents authority to state authority is the general concern. The state isnt fit to shovel, well, poop!
But there's no wording available. How can you object to a measure that claims to increase the duty of the state to protect children, except on the basis that it's (as yet) a pig in a poke?

It seems either thoroughly irrational, or the objectors know something about the potential legislators' intentions that the rest of us don't.
 

The Field Marshal

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Letter in today's Irish Examiner.



It's frustrating that the word 'rights' is bandied about so carelessly by politicians. They are abusing it so much it's almost beginning to lose its true meaning. We have to be careful not to allow any party to exploit the issue of rights for children and people with disability. Unless this referendum includes specific rights that children are guaranteed then it is meaningless.

The proposed referendum wording makes many references to 'guarantees' etc but the whole thing is fenced in from the outset by the statement that renders the ammendment aspirational. The good intentions are only to be implemented 'as far as is practicable'. It doesn't take a genuis to work out what a term like 'practicable' means to a Mary Harney.
What proposed referendum wording?:confused::rolleyes:

It does not exist.

Come back and try it on when you get it:rolleyes::rolleyes:
 

Goban Saor

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But there's no wording available. How can you object to a measure that claims to increase the duty of the state to protect children, except on the basis that it's (as yet) a pig in a poke?

It seems either thoroughly irrational, or the objectors know something about the potential legislators' intentions that the rest of us don't.
So far the they are talking about transferring parents rights to the courts. The official wording isnt out but from I have heard from the Greens is that it sounds bad.
 

blacbloc

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