Constitutionally incapable of protecting the welfare of our children
It is children who have struggled and suffered in order that this amendment be made to our constitution. It is long overdue. No adult can claim this victory as it rightly belongs to generations of children of this State that were horrendously abused, disregarded as surplus property for adults to do what they will with including moulding them into images of failed parents and a failing State.
The interference of the Church and the family as enshrined in the present constitution have ensured for generations that children would remain in a perpetual bondage irrespective of what abuses they suffered. The supremacy of the family’s rights over those of the child, backed up by the church and upheld by our courts because of its position in the constitution, was a tool of enslavement to misery and abuse - children as property. It is true to say that while the citizen is the benefactor of the constitution and its rights, the individual rights of children are nowhere to be seen in the document.
It is fair to say that certainly in my brief history on planet earth, 53 years, children were seen as a kind of wild animal that needed to be tamed. Look back, not too long ago, and see the treatments that were meted out to children not just in so-called correctional institutions, but also in family homes, hospitals and society in general. The lives of some children were, in the main, miserable and in many places around the world they remain a misery. However, in the next 24 hours the Irish people can change the lives of the nation's children by the stroke of a pen. All of the issues of the abuse of children and child protection etc will still be on the table on Sunday morning. Let’s face facts that these are constants. We can only strive to protect the Nation's children and all children against evil doings and the many dangers that face them. No better way to do this then to enshrine their rights as children in the Irish constitution. Their rights in the constitution and the upholding of those rights in the Irish constitution will be the business of the Irish people and their eternal vigilance over those rights.
This is a historic moment of momentous importance. Children always had rights we just didn't give them to them, we denied them. And now as a result of the unending relentless revelations and truths of child abuse this referendum has opened up a new chapter, a new beginning for children as individuals whose rights will be enshrined, as individuals, in the Irish constitution. So from the moment a child is born, they will have their own constitutional rights and it will be up to every individual adult and person to ensure that those sacred rights are not violated or impinged in any way. It is time to include children as equals in the constitution. It is time to be good parents and citizens, time to do the right thing for children.
In a failing State, in a failing society that has failed its children, because it was constitutionally incapable of being honest about what was happening in plain sight to its most vulnerable and precious, the least we can do is make sure that their rights are now enshrined and active forever more. Forget your monument and your memorial for victims of child abuse in your garden of remembrance. A vote Yes to children's rights amendments to the constitution is the proper way and proper monumental change that is now warranted. Memorials and monuments are stuck in a past, the constitution of a country and its citizens is ever present, is the beating heart of democracy and freedom and gives us our reasons to strive for better things.
There are still issues of accountability around what happened to children in this State, indeed this very Irish State has yet to be investigated for its role in this appalling neglect and care of duty. The church and religious congregations and the many institutions of this State have cases to answer and must be held accountable and consequences must be delivered. We must stand ready to ensure that this business is completed. We also must stand ready to defend our rights and the rights of our children against enemies outside of our State, within our State, and indeed the State itself.
The constitution is the document of the people for all the people. I do believe that children will be better off as a result of their inclusion in the constitution of the Republic of Ireland than they will be outside of it.
This is my personal opinion and I'm committed to a Yes vote and I'd ask that you consider with favour the children and their rights tomorrow. Children are not property, they are human beings, they have their rights and we have a duty to ensure that. Let’s do it.