Challenging “The Way It Is”

Frances Fitzgerald TD
Frances Fitzgerald TD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With a lot of focus on the banks, the debt crisis and the upcoming Treaty Referendum, once again the issue of Children’s right gets pushed back.

We are now awaiting the third version of the proposed wording of the Constitutional Referendum and that hasn’t emerged yet. Meanwhile many Children aren’t being taken into account as they have no rights in relation to The Family as defined by the Constitution.

With children in care from married families who cannot be adopted and the state afraid to act in some cases due to the Constitutional rights of the family children are being failed.

The state needs to buck up. It needs to protect children at all levels and it needs this amendment to do it.

The Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald is doing sterling work in keeping children to the fore and plans to challenge the status quo. She had the following to say at the Young Fine Gael National Conference back in February.

“We are nationally less concerned about the legacy of oversights,

mistakes, needs not met and care not given. Those failings are less headline-grabbing, less talked about and less obvious than abuse. And because they are less obvious they are more accepted.

We have come to accept that all children are not equal. We have come to accept that the children of the poor will stay poor and the children of the rich will stay rich. We have come to accept that the children of travellers will not live as long as the children of the settled. We have come to accept that the children of bad parents will suffer, while the children of good parents will prosper.

We have come to accept that awful phrase ‘that’s just the way it is’.

Well my department was created to change that phrase. The Taoiseach introduced a Minister for children specifically to challenge ‘the way it is’.

Around 9,000 young people leave school each year before taking the Leaving Certificate. The unemployment rate among early school leavers in 2009 was twice that of those who finished. That’s the way it is.

One in ten Irish children and adolescents suffer a mental heath

disorder. That’s the way it is.

The average age at which Irish teenagers being drinking is 14. Alcohol contributes to 50% of all youth offending and 50% of suicides. That’s the way it is.

I’ve made clear to my officials that second big challenge after

providing protection is to challenge ‘the way it is.’ Fundamentally that means providing opportunity. Equal opportunity. For every child. Equal opportunity to be healthy, happy, loved and fulfilled. “

Minister Fitzgerald also has a lot of work to do on Child Protection which she brought up at the recent Fine Gael Ard Fheis,

Everyone knows the economic shambles this government inherited from our predecessors. Everyone knows about the awful planning decisions, ill-judged taxes and pro-cyclical, election-focused economic policies that Fiannail used to drive this country onto the rocks.

People are not as aware of the shambles they left us in child protection.

No national framework for service delivery. No proper data collection. No standard methodology for assessing and referring cases. No needs-assessment for NGO funding. No linking up of HSE, community and voluntary agencies.

What we have found, in one word, is a disgrace.

Fixing this is going to take a long time. Luckily, we have the great advantage of working with dedicated, hard-working and committed people across every aspect of the sector. Rarely do you find a sector with such a mismatch between the dedication of its people and the incoherence of the system in which they operate.

Fixing this will require us to draw all of those people together in a system which puts children first.

Which I am doing.

Fixing this will require a national framework for child services.

Which we are developing


Fixing this needs law.

Which we are bringing in.

The heads of the Children First Bill are currently before the Oireachtas Health Committee and will hopefully be law before the end of the year.

A lot of steps have been taken, or started to be taken to try and get things right for Children in Ireland.

There a lot more issues that need to be fixed, but at least we are staring.

For more information on Children’s Right’s issue’s in Ireland check out Campaign for Children

Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for and UCC Express.

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