Why I am voting Yes on Saturday

Due to work I cannot take part in Yes For Children’s Big Canvass today so here is my contribution.

For the second time this country is being asked to vote on a Saturday. This time it is on Children’s Rights. We are being asked if we want to delete the current Section 5 of Article 42 and replace it with a new Article 42A. See Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012 (PDF)

This is an important amendment to the Irish Constitution. It will be the first time we will explicitly mentioning Children’s Rights in the Irish Constitution. This was first called for 20 years ago, so it is a long time coming.

This amendment is very important for the Children of Ireland. It will ensure that Children in long term care can be adopted. It will give the state more responsibility (NOT Power) towards the children of this country. It will ensure that Children’s best interest is put first and where appropriate the Child’s own wishes will have be taken into account for the first time by the courts.

This referendum on its own will not change a lot, but it will underpin a lot of the changes occurring at the moment. From the creation of the Child and Family Support Agency to the Children First Guidelines. And it will also give a statement of us as a people on how we want our children to be treated. It is for these reasons I am voting Yes. We have a poor record of looking after those who marginalised in this society and this is a way to start changing that. There are many other reasons to vote Yes. See YesForChildren.ie for more reasons!

See also Gregg Kelly’s piece on Spunout.ie for more reasons to vote Yes

This is one of the first referendum’s in the state where every major party and nearly every TD and Senator (bar one) is supporting. It has the unprecedented backing of chldren’s groups, parents groups, foster groups, various other NGO’s, Trade Unions, legal bodies and religious leaders. For the first time in any sort of election the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) has recommened that its members vote for this referendum.

I have yet to hear a good reason for a No Vote. Those against this referendum have mainly spurious arguments about Parental Rights (which the Conference of Catholic Bishops say is false), forced adoption (never going to happen), vaccinations (also not going happen), birth control (not a hope) and the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (your seriously scrapping the barrel here).

Saturday will be an important vote for another reason no matter what your view on this referendum. It will be about whether or not we as a country will bother to vote on Saturday. So for that reason it is important that between 9am and 10pm you go out and vote.

Its your Constitution, Your Decision, Your Vote! So Vote!

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Children’s Rights Referendum Public Meeting.

Fine Gael have organised a public information meeting on the Children’s Rights Referendum on Monday November 5th at 8:00pm in the Imperial Hotel, South Mall.

Speakers on the night include:

  • Simon Coveney TD, Minister For Agriculture, Food and the Marine
  • Mr Geoffrey Shannon, Government Special Rapporteur on Child Protection
  • Mr Joe O’Toole, Yes for Children
  • Ms Sinead McKee, ISPCC
  • Ms Gwen Healy, UCC

This is the perfect event to get more information on the referendum to help make up your mind before voting on Saturday 10th.

Remember its Your Constitution, Your Decision, Your Vote!

Facebook event here

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Diary of A Canvasser: Children’s Right’s Referendum


So it’s the second Referendum of 2012 and it is one we have been waiting for! While polls show that the Yes Side is a good bit ahead,  a Red C Poll for the National Youth Council of Ireland last week put the the Yes campaign on 74% and 4% against. The remaining 22% are undecided/Don’t know. While this is good news, there is a word of warning number of people who are informed about the issues. The poll has these numbers:

  • 14% say they are extremely knowledgeable about the Children’s Referendum
  • 19% say they are quite knowledgeable
  • 39% say they are not very knowledgeable
  • 22% say they are not at all knowledgeable

Its because of this Groups in favour must be out there making there points to ensure that they get their point across before the No side really get going!

So who is out campaigning on this? On the Yes Side we have:

  • Fine Gael
  • Labour
  • Fianna Fail
  • Sinn Fein
  • ULA
  • All independent TD’s and Senators
  • Yes For Children (composed of ISPCC, Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance and Campaign for Children)

On the No Side you have:

  • Alliance of Parents Against the State
  • Two Right Now
  • Parents for Children
  • John Water’s
  • Vincent Browne

So it does seem a bit one sided! But the Referendums last October was similar and we all know how that worked out for the Oireachtas Powers of Investigation Amendment.

So I have been out canvassing with Yes for Children and Young Fine Gael. With Yes for Children I took part in their canvass in Wilton (12th Oct) and Kinsale (13th Oct) and boy are these people good. Most of their canvassers are workers and volunteers with children’s charities and certainly passionate on this. As you can guess the majority of the responses were quite positive with some people questioning the cost, timing and a few people thinking we were voting on abortion (not yet!!!).

Kinsale was a very similar and we were blessed with the weather and certainly the people of Kinsale were very interested in what we were doing and supportive. One of or two people were against the amendment, but that is the joy of a democracy! One person was against the amendment because it didnt go far enough, which was an interesting point!

With YFG it has mainly been an information campaign on campus, but a door to door canvass is also under way, which I have been able to partake in yet. Hopefully that will change!

With today being the last day to register to vote, the campaign enters the final stretch. With TV3 hosting a debate next week, hopefully more coverage of the referendum will follow.

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Children’s Rights Referendum, Saturday November 10th

An Toaiseach Enda Kenny has announced that the Children’s Rights Referendum will take place on Saturday November 10th.

More details, including who will chair the referendum commission, will be announced tomorrow following the briefing of opposition leaders.

This will be the second referendum to be held on a Saturday. The first one was the second Nice Treaty referendum.

We have waited a long time for this referendum and while we still await the exact wording, the announcement of a date for the referendum is an important step. We can now, hopefully, look forward to a day when Children’s rights will be included in Bunreacht na hEireann

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We Do Need a Referendum on Children’s Right

 

Austria, Vienna, Stephansplatz This shot was t...
Austria, Vienna, Stephansplatz This shot was taken on Nations Children's Rights Day", on 'Stephansplatz', in Vienna, Austria. Thisone seems to be the first ever-oganized 'Smart Mob' on such occasion, although it was somewhat misnamed to be a flashmob'. Participants where asked to to lift any piece of white cloth during that time. This 'smart mob' happened for 60 seconds, beginning at 14:22 local time (13:22_Z). See also: Children's rights movement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today former Supreme Court Justice Hugh O’Flaherty wrote in the Irish Independent that we do not need a referendum on Children’s right’s.

As Justice O’Flaherty points the aim of this referendum is what an Oireachtas committee in 2007 set out,

  • Enshrine and enhance the protection of the rights of children.
  • Express recognition of children’s rights.
  • In its laws and actions the State shall cherish all the children of the State equally and the State should not discriminate as between children.
  • Protection of a child at risk — children of marital and non-marital families to be treated identically.
  • Welfare of the child to be of paramount consideration.
  • Extension of the right to adoption where the child’s welfare so requires.
  • Provision for education, including free primary education.
  • The rights of parents to be preserved except in exceptional circumstances.
  • The State’s laws and services to accord with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Minister for Children, Francis Fitzgerald, was quick to challenge him on this assertion, and she is not alone. Olivia O’Leary wrote a fantastic piece on Friday on adoption on the Campaign for Children website setting out a very good reason for this referendum: Adoption.

She wrote:

Why should the children of legally married parents have less rights to adoption than other children? Why should over 1,600 children in Ireland live in institutions or have only foster parents, no matter how good, because the adoption laws here, taking their lead from the constitution, say so. The laws say that the child of married parents can only be placed for adoption where it is shown to the court that exceptional circumstances exist and their parents have failed in their duties towards them and will continue to fail until the child reaches 18 years. As a result it is almost impossible for them to be adopted. I don’t know of any other country in the European Union where this is the case. It is wrong.

The time for Children’s right to be second to the family should be gone. It was 20 years ago that this referendum was first called for and we have been promised this referendum since 2006 and it is finally close at hand, so why give up on it?

Why not give Children the highest protection possible in this country by putting them in the Constitution?

A countries constitution is normally a good guide to how a country treats it citizen’s, and the fact that we include protection of the most vulnerable in our society will be a good thing. It also mean that our children will not be ignored by the highest law in this land.

So I must disagree with the Former Justice and say We Need this Referendum and we need it soon!

If you are interested in this issue and want to get involved in the campaign, do check out Campaign For Children

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Speech by YFG President Patrick Molloy at Fine Gael Rally

 

Paddy Molloy, President YFG Source: http://yfg.ie/euref/?p=769

The following is a speech by Patrick Molloy, President of Young Fine Gael at the National Fine Gael Rally on Sunday 27th of May.

 

On the 31st of May we have an opportunity.

An opportunity to banish uncertainty and cast aside the doubt that has plagued the country for many years and could plague this generation for years to come unless we vote yes.

In voting yes on the 31st of May we continue on the path to recovery. A path where Young Irish Men and Women will look to Ireland for their future, no longer looking for opportunities to leave, but rather taking and creating opportunities here at home.

For generations of Irish men and women Thursday’s vote will determine their future. On March the 9th 2011 Fine Gael and Labour entered into Government and took it upon themselves to reconstruct our country and our economy. We are building a new beginning.

This treaty is the continuity and certainty that this country needs but most importantly it is the certainty that my Generation needs.

We must provide a basis for strong fiscal governance that does not lend itself to short term gain at the price of a generations future. People starting their careers will have the opportunity to progress and further their ambitions in a confident and competitive Ireland. An Ireland in which fiscal governance ensures our economy can grow in a stable way.

What is being advocated by others, constitutes an act of simple self-promotion, driven by political ambition. We have a real alternative of smart fiscal governance and an insurance policy which will generate investor confidence.

People keep talking about stimulus packages but in small open economies, building investment and jobs are the only stimulus packages which work, and work right now.

We have seen many large Multi-Nationals invest in Ireland and setup or expand here. 13,000 new jobs have been created since January 2011, since 2010 jobs numbers are up 20% and for the naysayers, in the same period job losses down 25%.

These are the jobs that young Irish people want and need. These are the places where the future job creators and innovators learn the skills that help build the indigenous Irish business of tomorrow. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Paypal, LinkedIn, Intel – job creators, innovators, inspirers who instil confidence in the Irish economy and hope in the minds of my friends and I. These companies believe in Ireland and believe in the workforce we are training.

Our strength has always resided in our work ethic, our ability & willingness to trade & our openness to the future. For generations gone by, Ireland has always depended on these strengths, for our generation these are supplemented by a complete willingness to be a part of a new beginning. We must build on this new beginning and not let a single opportunity pass our country by. For my generation, these opportunities are crucial.

Young people in Ireland are deeply committed to the future of Ireland, they are innovative and invested in fixing Ireland.

We have an opportunity to build this new beginning , to compete once again on a world stage, to build towards a sustainable future where the choices people make are not dictated by the fluctuations in our economic cycles but by their own free will.

Secure this New Beginning,

Secure this future.

Secure our future,

Vote yes

Great speech!

 

Generation YES is back!

The logo of Generation Yes, a group of young, ...
The logo of Generation Yes, a group of young, Irish people campaigning for a Yes vote on the Lisbon Treaty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

YOUTH campaign group Generation YES is back and is saying ‘Yes’ to the referendum on the stability treaty. The group, which formed to burst the bubble on myths around the Lisbon Treaty, have re-launched to challenge what they see as fear-mongering on both sides of the debate on the stability treaty with an online campaign.

Andrew Byrne, Executive Director of Generation YES, says: “We want to present the facts on the stability treaty in a no-nonsense way and we are determined to take on lies and mistruths that anyone else – on the Yes or No sides – spreads in the campaign.

“We’re not going to waste anyone’s time with slogans like “Yes to Jobs”, with baseless threats or poorly informed statements.  We know this treaty isn’t a solution to all of Europe’s problems but after taking the time to read carefully through the text, research the economic, legal and political arguments, we have no doubt that voting Yes is the right thing to do.”

The Generation YES campaign will focus on the online space to reach their 18-35 year old audience. Generationyes.ie went live yesterday and will post the facts on the treaty that no one else is talking about.  What marks the website out among Yes campaigns is its forceful, no-nonsense arguments backed up with solid evidence. The GenYES facebook page, which has over 4,000 followers, and twitter accounts have already been reactivated.

“The members of Generation YES have come together again because thus far no other group is answering our questions or discussing the issues we want raised.   We want a realistic, frank debate on the facts and we will make sure that our generation gets that debate, “ adds Byrne.

A group of young people formed Generation YES in 2009 out of a sense that the political establishment had failed to speak to them during the first referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.  The group’s objective is to bring the debate on Europe back to the facts.

Do read the their pages “Why vote yes?” and “3 Questions for the No Side

It is great to see Gen Yes back!

Pollwatch: Sunday Business Post/RED C May 14th

Yesterday’s Sunday Business Post had a poll on Party Support and the upcoming treaty referendum. For the referendum the Yes side has much to be comforted by. The results are:

  • Yes: 53% (+6)
  • No: 31% (-4)
  • Don’t Know: 16% (-2)

When you exclude the Don’t Know yes side lead 63% to 37%. This shows the strength of the Yes side before the entry of Declan Ganley to the debate so it will be interesting to see if his contribution makes any difference.

In terms of party support the only major statistical movement is drop below 30%. The party support is as follows:

  • Fine Gael 29% (-3)
  • Labour 13% (-1)
  • Sinn Fein 21% (+1)
  • Fianna Fail 19% (+2)
  • Others 18% (nc)

Fianna Fail, who have been in the news a lot lately thanks to Eamonn O Cuiv, seems to have gotten a bit of a bounce from that. Sinn Fein remains the second most popular party in Ireland, but I still believe transfers will still be hard to come by for them.

The Government Parties have seen a drop in support which is probably due to the treaty campaign as much criticism has been laid at how the country is being run.

But over all, the movement is all within the margin of error, but trends are starting to set in.

Memes, Cow’s and The Yes Vote

Staying up late on Facebook (admit it you do it to), I came across a conversation between two of my friends (Lucy and Fran in UCC YFG), who have obviously being concentrating on the upcoming Treaty Referendum on May 31st as much as their exam in the morning! They produced some great Memes from a conversation about canvassing at a mart and putting rug on a calf (I’m now informed they are called calf jackets – thanks Tom!) with a slogan on it! This is what the conversation produced! I wonder what else will come out of their exam riddled brains during the campaign!

Keep up the good work girls! Good luck in the exams also!

Why I am Voting Yes – For Stability

A number of people have asked me why I am voting yes in the upcoming referendum on the Stability Treaty (Fiscal Compact, whatever you want to call it!), so I have decided to do a series of posts on why I am voting Yes. Here is the first part of the series.

One of the main reasons I am voting yes to the 30th Amendment to the Constitution on May 31st is to ensure Ireland has stability in the future. If we do not have access to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) we put this at risk, in my view.

We are going through a tough time as a country at the moment, with the Troika (IMF, ECB and the EC) here telling us we have to cut spending and raising taxes to meet certain targets. We need to hit these to enable us to return to the markets.

If we do not accept this treaty we will not have access to the ESM, which will have more money available to us then the IMF.

While we will still have access to the IMF, we will not get the same level of funding as we did last time. It could mean a tougher time for us as citizens. UCD Economist Karl Whelan recently explained this on Morning Ireland

Ireland could apply to the IMF for funds. However, people need to  understand that the IMF has its procedures in which is assesses how much money it’s willing to lend to a country. How much money they’re normally willing to lend a country, depends upon what’s called the size of a country’s IMF Quota. They normally will lend maybe three, four, five times a country’s Quota. They’ve already loaned Ireland, fifteen times our Quota. So that is well beyond their normal behaviour. Now why did they do that? They explained why they did that. They said that because Ireland has this additional support from Europe, they think that they’re not in as much, in as risky a situation. So we are now talking about, in addition to those loans that we already have from the IMF, will they give us far more than that, because now instead of being one third of the current bailout, they would have to be all of what’s afterwards. Most likely in that situation, what the IMF would do is deem Ireland’s debt situation to be unsustainable. The only way I think that they would be willing to lend to us, is if they say oh yeah, these guys are not going to be able to pay back all their debts. So you will see the existing debts, the sovereign bonds that we’ve issued to private investors, will at that point most likely be restructured. At that point they may be willing to think about, after a default, and we are shut out of financial markets for a number of years, they may be willing to give us a small amount of money.

So that means we have the possibility of a default if we do not vote Yes. Also possibility of a default means that we have a chance of having more austerity then less. As Karl Whelan again pointed out on Morning Ireland,

I think a most likely outcome of a No Vote that isn’t in any way reversed, and we just say we don’t want to borrow from the ESM, the most likely outcome from that is a large scale sovereign default, followed by possibly a small IMF Programme that would see the country have to run a zero budget deficit very very quickly. In other words, far more Austerity. So people who think they’re Voting No because they don’t like the Austerity, need to understand that it is more than likely that a No Vote would being us more Austerity in the near term than a Yes Vote.

So to avoid this scenario and to provide stability to the Irish Economy in Future, I am voting Yes on May 31st.