underthewillows: (Default)
[personal profile] underthewillows
So you can have your children taken away from you in Ireland if, on the judgement of a neighbour or random passer-by, they don't look sufficiently like you?

Of course not! What kind of banana republic do you think we're running here? That only happens if you are dark and the kid is fair!

There are to my certain knowledge at least three families in my town and surrounding areas where one child looks nothing like the rest of the family. This is because the child is Chinese and the parents are native Irish (foreign adoptions).

Do you think the child protection services were called in on them? Do you think it was even dreamed of happening in such cases?

Tell me again about how modern Ireland is so progressive. Here is where I start insulting everyone.

We have a coalition government at the moment. It consists of a centrist-right party (not as right-wing as a former, now defunct party but slightly more right-wing than the other main opposition party) and an allegedly left-wing party (insert for yourself the eyerolling, gagging noises, and casting hands up to Heaven regarding the modern Irish Labour party).

Two of the minority party ministers are out and admitted atheists. One of them holds the position analogous to Deputy Prime Minister, the other is our Minister for Education. They have been tripping over themselves rushing to fearlessly take on the power of the Catholic Church in Irish public life.

Our Minister for Justice (the boss of the police and the one setting the tone for policing strategy and policy) is Jewish.

Our Prime Minister (to use an analogous term) is Catholic, but he's been proudly and bravely standing up to reactionary Catholic fanaticism (even allegedly going so far as condemnations that he will burn in Hell!) over the recent Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (which everyone calls the abortion act, because it permits a limited form of legal abortion in Ireland for the first time).

Why do I mention this? Because this can't be pinned on the Bad Old Days or the Bad Old Church. The same newspapers and TV stations that were plastering 'shock, horror' stories about the Magdalen Laundries and how in the dark days of the 50s children could be taken away from their families at the whim of the nuns and priests with the State as a complacent lapdog, are the ones who whipped up the hysteria about "welfare scroungers" and "Gypsies stealing white babies".

The same government, that is committed to a secular, progressive, inclusive social agenda, the same government that campaigned for a "Yes" vote (to a referendum on children's rights which would amend our Constitution) in such a fashion that the Supreme Court judged the information campaign had not been "fair, impartial or unbiased"; the same government which assured us that the extended powers of social services to take children into care would not be abused - this is the same government presiding over these two scandalous cases.

They're going to try to push the blame off on the cops and the social workers, and there is certainly a case to answer there, but our Minister for Justice and our Minister for Children (a spiffy new post only created in the wake of the 2012 amendment) should be out there making statements explaining the whys and the wherefores.

And not them alone. The great and the good of charitable causes were all pushing for the amendment, all claiming that it would finally give children a voice and recognise their rights.

One of the rights is this:

The views of the child mean that the voice of the child must be heard and respected in all matters concerning his or her rights. For example, those in power should consult with children before making decisions that will affect them.

How much consulting went on with the girl taken from her family home, I wonder? The various secular saints of good causes, especially children's rights, are very silent on this point. The websites for the Children's Rights Alliance and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children have posts up about the defeat in court of the challenge to the referendum. They have nothing about two children from a specific ethnic group being taken out of their homes by the forces of the state on anonymous tips - not about cruelty or abuse or neglect, but nebulous fears based on phenotypic appearance.

The chief executive of Barnados, whose face I got heartily sick of seeing placarded on billboards and in the papers and on the telly when he was looking for a nomination to run for the Presidency of Ireland back in 2011, and who trumpeted his involvement in children's affairs as a reason why he'd be a good servant of the public interest, hasn't uttered a word on the topic that I'm aware of.

These are not the rosary-rattling, puritanical, repressive, priest-ridden Catholic hypocrite politicians of the Bad Old Days. These are the Good Guys, as they're never tired of reminding us.

And yet, in modern Ireland of 2013, a tabloid hack ginning up publicity for his TV show can set in motion the police force and health authority to stage a raid based on a naked appeal to public prejudice and fear, on the part of the authorities, of bad publicity.

We're left with a couple of conclusions that are depressing, to say the least. First, either there were no complaints of abuse or neglect prior to these raids (I can't think of a better way to describe them) and they were carried out purely, as I have said, as a prophylactic against bad PR. Or there were abuse concerns, but nobody was bothered to get involved (or the usual inefficiency and muddle that I observed was the rule) until the journalist sniffed out a juicy story - that's not much better, since in both cases, the other children of the families were left in the homes. No fears for their safety?

Secondly, my late father had brown eyes. I have blue eyes. Should I have been removed by the health board on the grounds that I didn't look like my parent? My younger brother was blond as a child, while all the rest of us had mid to dark brown hair. Should he have been taken away because he didn't resemble the rest of his family? My brown-haired sister is married to a brown-haired man. Their younger son is blond. Does that mean she should have to produce evidence at the drop of a hat that he really is their son? How about the local families with obviously foreign children - are they exploiting them by sending them out to beg and steal?

You can all guess why I'm not seriously worried about these instances. Because all of us in the above examples are WHITE.

Ah, isn't it grand to be alive at this day and hour in (w)holy (liberated from repression), no-longer Catholic, Ireland!
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