We are being asked by the State to make changes to our Constitution on the 10th November 2012. It is about the rights of children. So we must be vigilant about what we are voting for and ensure that we are doing what is in the best interest of the most vulnerable and traumatised citizens in our society. We are joint carers of the Constitution with the State, as a change cannot be made without our permission. So let us examine the change and make an informed judgement.
We already have in our Constitution an article which says “That all the children of the nation be treated equally”. We also have article 42.5 which covers the State as the guardian of the common good and which can now be changed to give some added powers if the citizens so wish.
So let us examine the Curriculum Vitae of the State in how they have upheld the Constitution so far in our history. Our State has delivered some very positive things for its citizens and it continues to do . As our children are the future of our country we must have absolute certainty in how their rights are exercised. We look at what is historically factual.
- In the past ten years alone, 196 children died in the care of the State, that is one child every three weeks. They are the ones that are documented and that are a statistic and are on record.
- The Redress board was put in place and paid out millions of tax-payers money to make restitution for the failure of the State to do their duty of care to children, institutionalised in State care.
- We have St. Patricks Institution where we incarcerate our vulnerable and traumatised boys, and where the State has been made aware by several national and international concerned bodies of the inhumane and scandalous conditions that children are kept in with little or no retraining, severe overcrowding, much violence and drugs freely available. Not a place to rehabilitate those so young who have broken the law. In the very recent past our Minister for Justice has said that no young boys under eighteen will be sent there in the future. Fine, but what about the young adults of eighteen and over? Is there another Redress Board coming down the tracks?
- The State stands over the 23% of children who leave school with literacy and numeracy problems, which handicap them for their lives, and have not addressed the problem.
- We look at parents begging and imploring in tearful desperation, for the State to help them rear a disabled child, and they are often not listened to.
I could write volumes on the neglect that our children suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of a State and could point out many articles governed by the laws of the land which are not implemented. So why at this time are we looking for changes? Perhaps the State should be taking charge of the changes that are so evident and that need to be urgently addressed and examine where they have failed in the care of our children while in their own care. We are now spending more millions trying to put more words into our Constitution, whereas if the original wording was adhered to it would make this country a more caring and more secure place for our children to grow up in.
We all need to make informed choices when we go to vote, this time it is about the future of the weakest in our society, let’s hope we get it right.