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An open appeal to vote ‘NO’ in the upcoming Children’s Referendum

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | feature author Wednesday October 31, 2012 13:45author by Cllr Pat Kavanagh Report this post to the editors

Why You Should Vote No

featured image

Having trained and gained professional child care qualifications, and then having worked with children in a professional capacity for over 30 years I, like all concerned citizens, obviously want the best for children – and for this reason I will be voting ‘NO’ in the upcoming Children’s referendum.

I have spent 16 years as a Social Care Worker working with the most vulnerable population of children in residential care. I have fostered 5 young people and have also worked with the HSE in areas of Child Protection, so feel qualified to state my concerns as outlined below. To the question “Do I have confidence in this state to provide for 'the best interests of children”?

No. Unfortunately I do not.

Firstly, I have serious questions regarding the proposed Child and Family Support Agency which would assume responsibility for children from the HSE. As outlined, this new Agency would be put in place to strengthen children's rights under the proposed constitutional amendment. The following questions need to be answered:

1. Has a new Board been established yet, and if so, who is on it, and in what capacity?

2. Will this Agency go ahead, regardless of whether the amendment is passed or not?

3. Will the new Agency be staffed by personnel from the HSE (admin and frontline?)

4. How much from the budget will be invested in the establishment and ongoing costs of this proposed Agency, and how much of this budget will be taken from the HSE?

5. Who is responsible for regulating same?

There are serious concerns across the board that while the aspirations for this new Agency may appear ‘good on paper’, the reality, coupled with proposed swinging cuts across the board, may render a new Agency less effective than it could be.

Anyone who is concerned about the welfare of children agrees that early, intensive family intervention, and supporting the family unit is the primary objective in child welfare. Any discussion regarding removal of children from their home can only occur where the child is at immediate risk or where all other interventions have failed. Research has shown it is not always the parents who fail in their interventions, as documented from various, shocking indictments of the HSE.

Were a Child and Family Support Agency underfunded (and there is a strong likelihood of same) and if personnel from the HSE are transferred to this new Agency, there are serious concerns that due to lack of resources, both financial and imaginative, the removal of children from their homes on a temporary or permanent basis could be seen as an early, rather than a last resort. Also, ‘Insofar as is practicable', will adoption be used as a cheap and easy way to deal with difficult situations, rather than apply the necessary intensive family intervention?

Financial Savings to the State:

In a nutshell, the State appears to want to unburden itself of its financial obligations to children, by having them adopted instead of fostered. Foster parents receive €325-€350 per child per week, (plus any additional one-off expenses such as school tours, orthodontic treatments, sports membership or equipment, therapeutic interventions etc) - adoptive parents get nothing.

Realistically, many children and young people become severely damaged because of difficult childhood experiences and frequently present with serious challenging behaviour in their teenage years. It is common that children from traumatic backgrounds suffer from psychological and behavioural conditions, leading to challenging behaviour. These crises would become the responsibility of the adoptive parent, as the State then washes its hands of the care of those children – this is in addition to the costs that apply to the care of a very disturbed child. Once adopted, is the State then liable for any legal proceedings that might arise in that child’s future, or is it exonerated from any misadventure which might befall that child? Under the new terms, it would be.

The Child’s Right to know his/her own family:

Parental rights and children rights are intertwined under Article 42 of the Constitution. Every child has the 'inalienable and imprescriptable right' to know who its own family is. The proposed amendment would result in abolishing these rights. Quite aside from any cost involved in access visits, so that the child can keep in contact with his/her natural family, this is still a time-consuming and labour intensive strategy for the HSE. Cynically then, the State, by using adoption, would, in one fell swoop, release itself of these costs.
In effect this means that the child will grow up not knowing its parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and extended family, or even its natural father who may not be named on the birth certificate. Sadly, the extended family would have no rights of access at all. When a child is adopted, the natural families have no rights. When the child reaches 18 years of age, he/she can attempt to make contact with natural family members, but research suggests this can be traumatic and not always successful.

Second Chance for Parents:

There are, of course, parents who cannot be allowed to care for a child, and nobody can condone leaving any child at risk. However, there are many documented cases where parents can be supported to work through their own particular traumas and result in a united, happy, and healthy family Unit. Parents who thrive through support agencies to overcome personal difficulties and traumas should have the right to have their children returned to them.

The Child’s Right to Decide for themselves:

Adoption and fostering have always been helpful in supporting children to reach safe adult lives. They both have an extremely important role to play in Irish society. The selfless commitment of adoptive and foster parents, who by and large are warm, caring people, cannot go unrecognised. One of the legal purposes of adoption is so that adopted children will have the same inheritance rights as the other children of the family. Does this decision need to be made when the child is very young? Why not defer such a life-changing decision until the child is old enough and mature enough to understand the full implications of adoption? After all, the people making the decision (social workers and judges) are total strangers, signing legally binding commitments for that child, before walking away without any responsibility for the consequences.

Finally, the new proposals suggest that foster homes be subject to HIQA inspections in the future. Of course there is a need to monitor children in state care, but this can be seen as a cynical service-cutting measure by the State that makes adoption a less expensive option than correct early intervention and fostering. We, the Irish people, who are the guardians of our children, must never allow the State, which has shamefully failed so many children in the past, the right or the legal means to forced adoption.

These issues have to be raised now as we cannot revisit this Referendum in twenty years time, and discover a whole generation who were taken from their parents, just to convenience the State coffers.

I urge you to vote NO in this Referendum on November 10th.

Cllr Pat Kavanagh

PDF Document apsflyer_ten_reasons_to_vote_no.pdf 0.09 Mb

author by An Draighneán Donnpublication date Tue Oct 30, 2012 07:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There are many very important issues raised in this article. These issues have been ignored, or covered up, by the bourgeois media. It seems that, at best, this referendum proposal is poorly thought out. Such a poorly devised proposal, which may even have cynical undertones, is best rejected.

author by francis - national union of journalistspublication date Tue Oct 30, 2012 23:47author email author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Councillor Patricia Kavanagh's analysis is spot on. As a retired journalist, I am amazed at the one-sided coverage of this referendum. There are very sound reason to vote No. The HSE has failed in its duty to children over the last ten years in particular. A total of 196 children died in State care and over 200 more went missing. Yet, the State wants more control at a time of diminishing financial resources. This is not about children; it is about adopting the children of married, or single parents and reducing the huge cost of fostering. The reason so many quangos are in favour of this measure is because - they hope - it will keep them going and continue the large payments to their CEOs. As for the political parties, they were all in favour of joining the Euro. What a disaster that turned out to be!

author by serfpublication date Thu Nov 01, 2012 16:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the powers that be urge us to vote yes to save the children, while in the same breath they discuss cutting child benefit. How cynical can you get?

They don't give a damn about children. Otherwise they would not attack their special needs assistants, their education, the roof over their heads and the heads of their families, the price of basic foodstuffs, the price of fuel, social welfare benefits, rent allowance, and basically their entire future with austerity cuts to pay off bondholders, zombie banks and the German bank gamblers.

Guess what, these Austerity cuts affect children too. And the stresses they impose on poor families cause no end of problems in those families.

Quite aside from the rather good points made by the author to vote no, one can also see this referendum as a fake way to be seen to care for children by changing a few lines of platitudes in the constitution which will not be backed by any real finance or structure or proper enforcement.

It's also a great way to distract the Irish people by mentioning "the children" or "abortion" at a difficult time politically, while they prepare to give away another billion or so this month (which amounts to an awful lot of child care!!) and another in December

Either way it's not what it seems. It's bad legislation with a view towards saving money by getting get rid of fostering of difficult children, jobs for the boys on boards, it's lip service to children's welfare, and it's a cynical ploy to both distract the public from the ongoing rape of our finances and it's a low cost political measure to make it seem like our political elites "care about children". (they clearly don't)

author by Con Carrollpublication date Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

ok , I haven't heard of cllr Kavanagh who says she worked with children in care. there are many of people who worked with children in care who were silent at the abuses which took place against children. others employed professional were threatened of fear of loosing their employment

yes the history of the 1970s and 1980s- will judge us on how children were treated in institutional care
again we have only to look at the care of children who died in HSE care. we can look at how youth imprisoned in St Patricks institution were treated in a report which came out in October 2012. we will have ministers for justice coming telling us how horrified they are and ashamed.
we can look at the impacts of the austerity cuts on children with disabilitys.

we need to move on believing that every child born in the Republic of IReland has rights. children have the right not to live in voilence, not to live in poverty. no to be forced into prostitution. children have the right to be listened to respected educated and experience in living in a caring family enviiroment.

there are people who are canvassing for a no vote who are coming from a political right back round. who wish that the political issues which have been raised and bebated were ignored.
do we cherish all the children of Ireland equal. as the Irish proclomation is written?
Vote YES. Saturday November 10 2012.

author by An Draighneán Donnpublication date Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Con, a chara, if this referendum was serious about childrens rights, it would ban child poverty, and end the apartheid system, based on class, in the educational system. It doesn't, so it is not serious about childrens rights.

The worst about a yes vote, is that it would be an obscene pretense that the free state gives a damn about children - unless their parents are rich.

author by I need claritypublication date Fri Nov 02, 2012 13:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I know Cllr P Kavanagh, and agree with her, as a parent my concern is ALWAYS for my children without fail, can I say the same for the State? NO! as one writer pointed out about children in care in the 70' s and 80's but the children we are referring to are/were in STATE care in most recent times as of last YEAR. 196 children died 200 missing yet NOT ONE SOCIAL WORKER QUESTIONED / SACKED OR JAILED?? Is this protecting our children?? These are cases the public know about, what about present abuses that maybe taking place within the HSE system that haven't come to light yet? Yet we the public are being asked to blindly vote yes and trust this Governments advice, like the "Stability Treaty " when they refused point blank to discuss the signed ESM treaty.!! Made the general joe public believe that there was a better bank deal on the table. In this Referendum however, I am NOT voting on a a basis on trust of the Government I am voting on the Rights of the Child. I am voting as a parent, I am voting on my children s children future rights, and I WILL BE VOTING NO. My reasons are simple:

1. Do I trust the present HSE system? NO, I DO NOT.
2. Do I believe the HSE/State could provide better care for MY kids? I wouldnt trust them with my dog, let alone my kids.
3. I believe this is just another cost cutting idea thrown on to an already overloaded table
4. I believe the HSE and its systems needs a complete over haul, yes meaning people are removed from their present positions. (as a carer I had many dealings with the HSE... infact the HSE are advised NOT to inform citizens of entitlements is THIS trust or right? )
5. Yes in certain cases children need to be taken out of horrible environs, and marriage should NOT be used as a blockage. BUT decisions must be made by a sitting board of EXPERTS, not one sole person.
6. This governments campaign is a clear message to vote yes, HOWEVER one merely has to look at their actions to rightfully decide, actions such as cutting Children's benefit, present evictions of families from their homes (the Government failing to step in despite €64 billion given to Irish FAILED banks) and further examples of Governments failings can be bought any day from news stands/papers in ANY county in Ireland Everyday theres a "New" story about yet again another politician who has your concerns deeply in-bedded in his/her cold, stone, bloodless heart during election times. that is in trouble...
7. This country is based on greed and over all corruption, from the top down, and ANY political move that says it will do something positive you know its gonna turn on YOU.

On Nov 10th 2012 I WILL be voting for my children's rights, our children's rights by voting NO! Well done Cllr. Pat!

author by I need claritypublication date Fri Nov 02, 2012 14:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am very concerned on many issues...someone mentioned previous problems with HSE...who do they think the new board be and will it be any different...I heard some mention of things like vaccinations...if the parent things it safer not to vaccinate and the state see otherwise the state have the say.

Also as one of many who have children living in the state and being a tax payer I am not allowed to vote on an issue that could ultimately affect my say on the raising of my child as I am not a citizen of Ireland...I can however and have voted on party selection to run the country and vote in the very people who have put together this framework but I cannot vote for or against it...should this not be an open to all vote...I have no way of influencing the future events involving my children.

author by cropbeyepublication date Fri Nov 02, 2012 23:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good to have these issues aired

author by Damon Matthew Wise - NCPD - the Natinal Council for People with Disabilities Litdpublication date Sun Nov 04, 2012 00:30author address 29 Ballycaseymore, Ballycasey, Shannon Town, Co. Clareauthor phone 061-361945Report this post to the editors

Do not be hoodwinked into signing the rights of your children with disabilities over to the state in support of their illegal kidnapping agenda - the way that social workers try to blackmail, bully, insinuate and threaten families involving disability into extending fostering children from respite into "regular", "Full-Time" or "Permanent care" is something that needs to be raised - this referendum and the legislation published will allow the state to adopt out to foster parents all such children without consent or reason.

Many of our children are in the system for no other reason for the fact that there is no respite care available, and the HSE seems fit to use fostering services to dump our children and have them abused and neglected as the system does not understand and support their medical, therapy and social needs.

In the vast majority of cases nothing has ever been to court - and it is proposed that children who have been in this abusive and manipulative system will be adopted automatically (in order to save money) when the cheapest option is to support the family with disabilities in the home.

Not gong to have the issues hidden behind closed doors. Get the truth out!

Prime Time could not tell the truth - a thundering disgrace. Rubbish - the state will further take children into care without cause and bulding on the powers then adopt the children without reason and the courts will allow children to make a statement and ignore it.

No positive action or rigts and no definitions of the rights with regards to the UN Conventions, protocols and codicils means more state sponsorred uncontested kidnapping.

NO TO a children's referendum without rights.

Rubbish - lies, damn lies and covers ups - cannot lie straight in bed - want an honest debate bring us who have worked in the disability rights for decades and rights of the child since the 70's.

Watch out more children will disappear behind closed doors in the system.

Children get taken away from parents in the night and parents get refused their rights.

Children are brutilsed in care ... the state does NOT take the cases to court and parents and families get bullied into having children taken away without grounds.

Live in the real world. Remember the O'Hara family case and our fight for our children "look up "Meet The Wise Family" or "It's not a crime for a disabled person to have a child".

Most cases NEVER EVER see a court. Parents get bullied.

These children taken in the middle of night by social workers have NO RIGHTS - they bully and lie and cheat to get more money.

NO RIGHTS =- NO Childrens' Referendum - this is a "Sign children away to the state without any grounds and have then illegaly kidnapped and adopted referendum".

STOP LYING! Thousands of such cases happen every year and the Families with disabilities HAVE NO RIGHTS - their children are cattle to be swapped between states social care departments for money.

This referendum makes the provision of the state to take children easier rather then using foreign coutries in contravention of the The Hague Convention.

Let rights be defined and agreed and the protection of families with disabilities to get supports for the family stand to prevent illegal kidnapping.

They never get to court because there is no basis for the state taking the chldren.

We had to fight the extension of respite care heading towards full time/permanent care without grounds or consent while our children were shouted at, threatened, bullied and subjection to physical, emtional and psychological abuse and medical neglect.

WE KNOW THE FACTS - WE HEAR THE FACTS - PLEASE LET THESE FACTS BE HEARD - these are all done behind closed doors and outside of the court.

Do not allow state-sponsrered abuse to become easier.

We need specified chidrens and disabled rights under the UN Conventions and its addtional protocols to give REAL RIGHTS NOW - NOT Negative rights state-sponsored kidnapping and adoption of children who should not be forced into the fostering systen without any reason other then money.

Proposed 42A 2 1 to keep natural and imprescribeable rights; then prescribes to erode those rides n each subsequent section; 41 iithe best interests of the child be paramount but does not require a single abuse of the system where scial workrs and the system cause chidren to be extended fostering inppropriately without cause, or valid reaso by sole vurtue of a history of disabiity - ofte they asume best interest in fabricating reasos, and bullying parents into agreeing for services on invalid grounds ot facilitate plan to seperate families; no definition of failure and provision of services in fstering when children can be forcibly adiopted - thousands of chidren have some fostering - with lack of Respite Care and famiiy support, and dump these cases into fostering - they do not have any child protection cases or abuse,or neglect - the sole issue is using the budget and gtting most fosytering places used as possible - by so doing eroding the family and services - the legislation prosed will result in foster parents having the right t apply to adopt children - after 3 years of maybe just 1 hour respite care eah year ... or shared pareting during school term - and then clai that these are prmamnent and make unfounded claims like "Children been in care for 6months to backdate child benefit, when with exception of only for parts of a few weeks, the cildren were almost exclusively at home. How can we trust that such abuses and fraud in fostering will not resut in the absolute continuation of the misuse to adopt out child who for nothing else but the abuse and neglect they suffer in FOSTERING by virtue of disability have no basis - we know from tjousands of cases that never go to court, and from Irish Citizens being adopted out in the UK under such drakonian systems that only exist in the UK that selexcetive editing, misreporting and outright lying are commnplace "in the best interests of the child" to seperate families ONLY because of disabilities whch supporting the family in the family home would be cheaper and emotionally and physically better for the family. Forget second chance at unhappiness by getting done over by the system vote NO!

Created the Group Vote NO to the "Children's Referendum" without defined Rights: In order to protect the rights of the family and define rights consistant with international definitions using the UN Conventions, protocols and codicils, a negative rights constitutional ammendment WILL be used to continue to represss the rights of the family where disabilities are involved - rolling back parental powers subject to te whims of social workers adopting out children taen into excessive care without legal grounds, or basis just because of disability is ILLEGAL and MUST remain so. The inability or unwillingness of the state to deal with the fosterng system to brutilise and alienate Irish Citizens at home and abroad ramdomly and without going to court aand without cause being in care system, and denationalionalising and exporting children from families with disabilities in order to remove them will allow them to legally kidnap children bullied into care, strip the parents and family of rights to each other without cause and do so in clear violation of The Hague Convention illegally in Ireland, rather then being given reasonable and cheaper support is effectively in the home. State and Institutional abuse, subject to the whims of social workers withouut fair and balanced legal support of the family must not become legal in Ireland.

Damon Matthew Wise - National Secretary of the National Board and Directors of NCPD - the National Council for People with Disabilities Limited; Co-Ordinator, Trustees of Federation Trust and Co-ordinator of ICAAN - the Irish Council for Aspies and Autistic Networking. and

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author by Concernedpublication date Wed Nov 07, 2012 21:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just heard a discussion on radio today. My suspicions about tis referendum have been confirmed as how could a government that will be cutting numerous benefits and programmes for children very soon in the budget then want to have a referendum that is good for children. It is not possible.

It seems that the change in the constitution and legisalation will allow the state to decide whether to vaccinate every child for whatever the latest thing the drug companies are pushing and parents will have no say in this.

So they can come into the schools and before you know it or have any say, your kid will come home and say they were vaccinated today.

author by Elricpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2012 01:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There may be good reasons for enforced vaccination just as Jehovahs Witnesses children get blood transfusions against their parents will. But each of the bllod transfusions have to be approved by a High Court order. The same should be the case for vaccinations.

author by melgibsonpublication date Thu Nov 08, 2012 06:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

*cough* swine flu jab *cough* Narcolepsy *cough*
Who would want to let the state give these dodgy vaccinations to our kids for trivial conditions such as a mild seasonal flu? It's just not worth the risk.

However, I can see how a nice sweet deal could be worked out between FG privatisers and pharmaceutical companies to provide a nice profitable and now compulsory vaccination program all through the schools for the next fake pandemic they manufacture.

Of course the poor can pay for this by deduction from their child benefit.

author by serfpublication date Fri Nov 09, 2012 07:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Supreme court has ruled unanimously on Thursday that the government breached the McKenna judgement in it's information brochure.

Essentially they used taxpayer funds to campaign for one side of an issue referendum.

This has really thrown the cat among the pigeons regarding the validity of the result of this referendum.

The government brochure went out to homes across the entire 26 counties containing information biased towards one side of the referendum, all paid for by (1.1 million euro of) taxpayers money

temporary link to primetime program here where it is discussed:

as usual with RTE corporate drm video streams, it's full of adverts and it will disappear down the memory hole in 21 days. ;-(

author by Karinapublication date Fri Nov 09, 2012 21:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Weird that those who cut social welfare, education and health, affecting hundreds of thousands of children in this country, all of a suddent develop warm feelings towards our children. Do I believe their sudden change of heart? No, I just don't trust these scumbags in government. None of them, Gilmore, Kenny, Higgins, they are all a disgrace.

author by Tpublication date Sun Nov 11, 2012 16:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The turnout was 33.5% and the referendum was passed by 58% of voters. This is definitely not a strong endorsement of it.

There were 3 constituencies where it was rejected which were Donegal North East, Donegal South West, and Dublin West.

As predicted the highest Yes vote came from the middle class strongholds (at 73%) in Dublin South, followed by Dublin South East and Dún Laoghaire. The middle class is that body of people who have gained much from the system and have their strongest belief and faith in all it structures and are generally most bought into the propaganda of the system and the mythologies it invents.

As Ireland drifts along further into deeper recession over the coming years, we will see an erosion slowly but surely of these values and pious beliefs

author by Open Window - thepropertypin.compublication date Mon Nov 12, 2012 01:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An excerpt of an interview with John Hemming UK MP detailing how Article 41 prevented the taking of a child from a mother by request of the UK Court system. This also paints a vista of what may happen here if we follow the UK's lead now that the authorities can claim dominion over children in superiority to their parents or extended families.

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