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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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!

YFG Launches YES Campaign

Young Fine Gael today launched its Yes campaign for the Referendum on May 31st. The campaign is titled “Secure our Future, Vote YES”. The official launch will take place this evening in UCD.

The campaign is structured around 3 messgaes:

  • Ireland Needs Stability & Growth
  • We need an Ireland that Competes
  • Ireland needs Real Certainty

There is a Website (with a blog), Facebook page, a Pinterest page (a first that I know for a referendum campaign in Ireland) and they are doing the Treaty in 21 tweets on Twitter!

There is also a few video’s from members:
Una Clarke

Patrick Molloy, President of YFG

Frankie Mulqueen,

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

And

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

YFG to hold Human Rights Session at Fine Gael Ard Fheis

As part if the 76th Fine Gael Ard Fheis, Young Fine Gael will be hosting a session on Saturday afternoon on the topic of Human Rights. The session will discuss Human Rights at home and abroad. The Session will include discussion on how human rights should become central to our society and political system, the media treatment of human rights, children’s rights and the Children’s Referendum, and advocacy for people with disability.

Speaking about the Session, Young Fine Gael President, Patrick Molloy said:

“This is a great opportunity to bring YFG members together with key opinion makers campaigning for human rights in Ireland. The Session will enable our members better understand future changes in major issues like marriage and adoption rights for LGBT individuals in Ireland, children’s rights, and disability rights, and also how these issues develop in the political and media sphere. Our members will also have an opportunity to engage with speakers about these topics.”

“As Fine Gael work with Labour in government, Young Fine Gael are advocating that human rights are kept central to our policies and goals and this Ard Fheis Session is an opportunity for our members to have their say on human rights in Ireland and abroad.”

The speakers will include

  • Tanya Ward, Children’s Rights Alliance
  • Carl O’Brien, Irish Times
  • Simon Harris TD
  • Colm O’Gorman, Amnesty Ireland

It will be an interesting session and I for one am looking forward to it!

Facebook Event

YFG Press Release

Gay Adoption? YFG to discuss motion in favour

Adoption by Choice, Erie PA
Adoption by Choice, Erie PA (Photo credit: hbimedialibrary)

Another of the motions released ahead of the Young Fine Gael National Conference next weekend is one of the issues that has been left unlooked at following the Civil Partnership Act. Gay Adoption. The motion from DCU reads as follows

YFG call on the government to bring forward legislation allowing gay couples to adopt

Currently a poll on thejournal.ie has support for gay adoption on 72%. Young Fine Gael passed a motion on support for Gay Marriage with a massive majority at Summer School last summer.

While young people are in favour of this proposition and polls regularly show  strong support for it, it will be interesting to see how this motion pans out at conference.

In a related note check out this video from the Washington State debate on Gay Marriage

Motions to be discussed at YFG Conference 2012

  • YFG proposes that an incentive for young farmers be introduced by increasing the number of training places in agricultural colleges – Laois YFG
  • YFG approves of the process of fracking as can it can prove a viable energy source in Ireland for the foreseeable future – UCD YFG
  • YFG proposes that the 1989 Incitement of Hatred Act be updated to include provisions relating to social media and social networking – Kilkenny YFG
  • YFG believes that a graduate tax should be introduced for all college graduates as a means of funding their education and the present entry fees should be phased out over 5 years. Households with an income of below €45,000 would be exempted – UCC YFG
  • YFG believes that it is imperative that the ECB renegotiates the current promissory note structure with the Government. It is in the best interests of the Irish economy, the ECB, the Euro and the European Union that the structure of the promissory notes system is changed. Failure to do so will create an unsustainable debt burden for Ireland, causing huge barriers to job creation and restricting growth in the Irish economy – YFG National Executive
  • Young Fine Gael strongly supports Ireland’s membership of the euro and the efforts of EU Government to stabilise the eurozone, and; calls on the Government to engage with other EU member states to implement real and lasting reform of the EU treaties and institutions to ensure that the dangerous political paralysis of the last two years can never be repeated. – Alfie Byrne YFG
  • YFG calls on FG to live up to its election promise and removes Irish as a compulsory subject in the Leaving Certificate – Wexford YFG
  • YFG call on the government to bring forward legislation allowing gay couples to adopt – DCU YFG

YFG to call on the Government to implement its election promise?

Young Fine Gael
Image via Wikipedia

More of the motions from the Young Fine Gael next weekend have been released and Wexford YFG have one calling on the Government to implement one of Fine Gael’s pre-election policies on the Irish Language. The motion reads

YFG calls on FG to live up to its election promise and removes Irish as a compulsory subject in the Leaving Certificate

The relevant part of the Fine Gael manifesto reads as follows

Fine Gael is committed to overhauling the way in which Irish is taught at primary and second levels of education, to ensure teachers are equipped with the right tools to instil a love of the language for all students and the curriculum is designed to inspire students to continue speaking the language after leaving school.

• We will overhaul the curriculum at second level and we will critically examine the effect of current training methods of teachers to teach. Irish as an optional subject for Leaving Certificate will only apply following consultations on both matters.

• We will allocate 50% of marks to oral Irish exams.

• We aim to double the proportion of Irish students sitting the Higher Level Leaving Certificate exam by 2018.

This is sure to get a big debate going on Saturday morning. The Irish Language policy caused a lot of division in the grassroots of Fine Gael and Young Fine Gael and is an issue that can regularly be heard debated in YFG/FG social events.

While I am all for a revision of the curriculum on Irish and in fact think it should be split into two subjects, Conversational and Literature. This should stop the learning by rote which is endemic in the learning of Irish, but should it be compulsory is a tough one.

Motions to be discussed at YFG Conference 2012

  • YFG proposes that an incentive for young farmers be introduced by increasing the number of training places in agricultural colleges – Laois YFG
  • YFG approves of the process of fracking as can it can prove a viable energy source in Ireland for the foreseeable future – UCD YFG
  • YFG proposes that the 1989 Incitement of Hatred Act be updated to include provisions relating to social media and social networking – Kilkenny YFG
  • YFG believes that a graduate tax should be introduced for all college graduates as a means of funding their education and the present entry fees should be phased out over 5 years. Households with an income of below €45,000 would be exempted – UCC YFG
  • YFG believes that it is imperative that the ECB renegotiates the current promissory note structure with the Government. It is in the best interests of the Irish economy, the ECB, the Euro and the European Union that the structure of the promissory notes system is changed. Failure to do so will create an unsustainable debt burden for Ireland, causing huge barriers to job creation and restricting growth in the Irish economy – YFG National Executive
  • Young Fine Gael strongly supports Ireland’s membership of the euro and the efforts of EU Government to stabilise the eurozone, and; calls on the Government to engage with other EU member states to implement real and lasting reform of the EU treaties and institutions to ensure that the dangerous political paralysis of the last two years can never be repeated. – Alfie Byrne YFG
  • YFG calls on FG to live up to its election promise and removes Irish as a compulsory subject in the Leaving Certificate – Wexford YFG
  • YFG call on the government to bring forward legislation allowing gay couples to adopt – DCU YFG
YFG proposes that an incentive for young farmers be introduced by
increasing the number of training places in agricultural colleges – Laois
YFG
YFG approves of the process of fracking as can it can prove a viable energy
source in Ireland for the foreseeable future – UCD YFG
YFG proposes that the 1989 Incitement of Hatred Act be updated to include
provisions relating to social media and social networking – Kilkenny YFG
YFG believes that a graduate tax should be introduced for all college
graduates as a means of funding their education and the present entry fees
should be phased out over 5 years. Households with an income of below
€45,000 would be exempted – UCC YFG
YFG believes that it is imperative that the ECB renegotiates the current
promissory note structure with the Government. It is in the best interests
of the Irish economy, the ECB, the Euro and the European Union that the
structure of the promissory notes system is changed. Failure to do so will
create an unsustainable debt burden for Ireland, causing huge barriers to
job creation and restricting growth in the Irp9olk,m ish economy – YFG
National Executive
Young Fine Gael strongly supports Ireland’s membership of the euro and the
efforts of EU Government to stabilise the eurozone, and; calls on the
Government to engage with other EU member states to implement real and
lasting reform of the EU treaties and institutions to ensure that the
dangerous political paralysis of the last two years can never be repeated.
– Alfie Byrne YFG
YFG calls on FG to live up to its election promise and removes Irish as a
compulsory subject in the Leaving Certificate – Wexford YFG
YFG call on the government to bring forward legislation allowing gay
couples to adopt – DCU YFG

YFG To Support a Graduate Tax?

Young Fine Gael
Image via Wikipedia

Continuing my look through the motions ahead of Young Fine Gael National Conference in Tullamore the next motion to pique my interest is one from my own branch in UCC. The motion reads as follows:

YFG believes that a graduate tax should be introduced for all college graduates as a means of funding their education and the present entry fees should be phased out over 5 years. Households with an income of below €45,000 would be exempted

One the issues I always have with USI and FEE is that they do not suggest an alternative to University fees while protesting against them. With the state of the economy at the moment it would be impossible to countenance the continuation of the free fees policy.

A graduate tax is a sensible  approach to this issue and  viable progressive alternative to fees or loans.

This will be an interesting debate at conference especially among members in college or about to start.

The others motions that have been released

  • YFG proposes that an incentive for young farmers be introduced by increasing the number of training places in agricultural colleges – Laois YFG
  • YFG approves of the process of fracking as can it can prove a viable energy source in Ireland for the foreseeable future – UCD YFG
  • YFG proposes that the 1989 Incitement of Hatred Act be updated to include provisions relating to social media and social networking – Kilkenny YFG
  • YFG believes that a graduate tax should be introduced for all college graduates as a means of funding their education and the present entry fees should be phased out over 5 years. Households with an income of below €45,000 would be exempted – UCC YFG
  • YFG believes that it is imperative that the ECB renegotiates the current promissory note structure with the Government. It is in the best interests of the Irish economy, the ECB, the Euro and the European Union that the structure of the promissory notes system is changed. Failure to do so will create an unsustainable debt burden for Ireland, causing huge barriers to job creation and restricting growth in the Irish economy – YFG National Executive

What the Frack? YFG to discuss Hydraulic fracturing at National Conference

Young Fine Gael is holding its National Conference in Tullamore, Co. Offaly between the 17th-19th February. One of the motions that has been accepted for debate is on Fracking or to be more exact Hydraulic fracturing which is way to extract Gas from shale.

The motion from UCD YFG reads as follows

YFG approves of the process of fracking as can it can prove a viable energy source in Ireland for the foreseeable future

Clare County Council recently banned the process while in Leitrim and Fermanagh Hydraulic fracturing is being considered as a viable way of extracting gas that has been discovered.

Fracking though is quite divisive and already protest meetings have been held on the issue.

Australian firm Tamboran claims that there is 40 years worth of Gas in the North West of Ireland while opponents claim that that the Shannon Basin will be polluted which would have serious knock on effects for a lot of habitats down stream.

It will be an interesting debate in Tullamore.

The other motion that has been released so far are:

  • YFG proposes that an incentive for young farmers be introduced by increasing the number of training places in agricultural colleges – Laois YFG

YFG Conference Coverage – Irish Indo

Continuing my search through the papers from yesterday for coverage of the YFG Conference at the weekend, the only paper with articles about the conference is the Irish Independent and they have two articles.

The first article is on Simon Coveney’s speech and his promise to give up his ministerial car if he is appointed a Minister.

“If I become a minister, I will not accept a state car. I’m telling you that now. You can quote me on it,” he said at the Young Fine Gael national conference in Charleville, Co Cork.

The second is a wide ranging article on many of the motions and speeches at the Conference. I like that they picked up Eric Keane’s comment’s about Labour and I think he does have a point.

… a perception existed in Fine Gael that the party “can’t touch Labour”, according to Young Fine Gael’s new president Eric Keane, from Clare.”Yet they get up on every occasion and criticise us. The Labour Party claims to be more pious and principled than the Pope,” he said.

Mr Keane said two interviews with Mr Gilmore revealed he was in favour of “not cutting anything, spending everything”.

“Lies and deception and hypocrisy,” he said to rapturous applause.

They also cover some of the criticism of senior party policy, namely NewERA

Fine Gael’s much-vaunted job-creation policy also came in for criticism. Tadhg O’Donovan, from University College Cork, questioned why the party was proposing to sell state assets in a depressed market.”The price you get for something like the ESB will be less than five years ago or in five years time,” he said.

They also covered the motion on cancelling mortgage debt.

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