For the third time the Irish Times has censored a comment of mine – this one posted last Saturday beneath an article by John Waters about the children’s rights referendum. I don’t usually find myself in broad agreement with what JW has to say but this was different. Waters made a good fist of exposing what he calls the pious humbug of the referendum – and of how when it seemed that the referendum might unintentionally do what it says on the tin – i.e. confer some actual rights on vulnerable immigrant children – Fianna Fail had immediately begun to talk about needing to ‘tweak’ the wording of the wretched thing so as to appease some of the more rabid anti-immigrant racists who have begun to bellow about the referendum.
Unfortunately, despite this being the third time The Irish Times has censored a comment of mine, I haven’t yet learned to keep a copy of what I submit to them. But it said, roughly, that Waters is right; that the referendum is about a transfer of parental authority/responsibility for protecting their children to the state and other agencies; that it does not confer a single, legally enforceable right on any child and that no undertakings of any sort have been given to provide extra funding and supports for the dire state of child protection services which would have to be a cornerstone of any meaningful rights-based legislation. Even if it was a good idea, which it is not, what use is more power for social workers in a situation where they are already on their knees from overwork and are unable to protect children already known to be at risk? Are we going to seriously hamper the existing constitutional protection that children have in favour of a system which sees so many children inexplicably and unaccountably dead and/or missing? Madness. Also, and most worryingly, the ammendment wording does not include a whisper of an increase in a legally enforceable duty of care or accountability of the state and its agencies for failures.
The comment also included a link to a letter that was published in The Irish Examiner (might this be the problem?), which asks for Irish people to be vigilant about politicians playing politics with children’s rights. When I spotted that comments submitted after mine had been allowed, I posted a reminder/request to the moderators yesterday to find out what had happened to my post – to no avail. Today I see that they have, in their wisdom, decided to close the thread completely to any further comment. Is the Children’s Rights Referendum unworthy of public discussion? There are only 6 comments on the thread. Why do other pieces carry umpteen pages of comments and remain open for weeks after they are published?