September 20, 2012

Enda praying that walking on eggshells will do trick

Posted in Irish Independent · 49 comments ·

THIS is Enda’s eggshell referendum. For the Taoiseach knows all too well that there are few political minefields more lethal to the longevity of a government than a constitutional referendum and anything to do with children or family.

And so there was never any doubt that the wording of the Children’s Referendum would be meticulously picked over by legal-eagles for loopholes or for any hint of hubris before being unveiled — there couldn’t be the slightest suggestion that this was a charter for social-worker shock-troops to be able to snatch howling infants from their anguished mothers.

Lord knows, there are enough citizens cheesed off with the Government already, what with health cuts and household charges, without enraging a whole new swathe of voters by portraying themselves as something akin to the Child Catcher from ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’.

Finally the wording was ready for release yesterday (though its moniker 42A sounds more like a bus than an amendment).

Enda, Eamon Gilmore and Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald all trooped into the press centre in Government Buildings before noon. The trio were at pains to emphasise the importance of the referendum.

“Childhood only happens once, and on November 10, we have an opportunity to decide that every childhood is precious, and that every child is deserving of our protection and care,” stressed the Tanaiste.

The Taoiseach was equally at pains to highlight that “the extensive time and energy put into making and enforcing these new laws reflects the priority the Government attaches to child protection,” he said.

But any interested parties present at the press conference who had been following the painstaking progress of a children’s referendum through both this government and the last one, may have been gripped by a sense of deja-vu.

For the wording is very similar to that proposed by the previous children’s minister, Fianna Fail’s Barry Andrews. Remarkably similar, in fact. There appear to be little more than a few words changed in total — the main difference seems to be that the word “may” is changed to “shall” four times.

And Four-Words Frances was eager to underline that this did not give the State the green light to snatch children with impunity. “In relation to a power-grab by the State, absolutely not,” she declared firmly. “It’s not about the State micro-managing parents, it’s not about the State wanting to interfere unduly.”

At it happens, the Taoiseach is going to be in Rome for a meeting with the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti this weekend — and he’s also going to be among a group of EU leaders who will meet Pope Benedict.

So would the thorny topic of clerical child abuse be raised, given that Enda had a right lash off the Vatican after the Cloyne Report was published last year?

“The audience with the Pope is not a private audience, it’s on Saturday morning in Castel Gandolfo,” he said, before seeking refuge in a sports-related quip. “I mightn’t even have time to ask him for divine intervention for Sunday,” joked the Mayoman.

No point in getting all controversial when there’s a referendum to win — Gloria in Eggshells, indeed.

  1. Lius

    A very slow news week David?

    • I think David’s point is this reflects the overall Enda governance pattern as applied to the unions, public sector, Crowe park agreement, the banks, the EU, Mario Monti/ECB.
      It always amazes me how some leaders when they get to the top of their game, look for someone else to lead them or tell them what to do, with no hint of a threat of consequences if they don’t at least sometimes get their way.
      So I’m looking forward to Enda discovering more bark and bite with the European powers that be.
      EUro departure referendum anyone?

  2. michaelcoughlan

    I wonder if it crosses his mind that in order to protect children you must first have children to protect and not in exile with their newly emigrated parents.


    • Don’t forget the, constitutional protections apply to all children, including the as yet unborn. Putting the national and non-national birth rate aside, did any new funding for these additional safeguards become available? .

    • gizzy

      Such an obvious well made point Michael. Kids in happy families with stable economic circumstances do best. They are making a huge deal out of this while destroying the livelihoods of parents.

      • bonbon

        Correct, the ultimate hypocrisy. A deliberate calculated political psychological tactic. I see this right across the EU. One finds a politician with those “caring” eyes to sell people the absolute economic carnage.
        Romney has this now with “lovable” Paul Ryan, who really wants to hurt Americans (reported by Maureen Dowd and the Irish Times recently). She said someone who wants to seriously hurt should wipe the smile off their faces.

        Then, the parents, saying it’s not that bad. The kids cannot yet express their views on how they let them down, “going-along-to-get-along”, being popular, making a show of quality time with the kids, as the economy crashes around their ears. They should be marching and demanding a future for the kids.

  3. Grey Fox

    Also to protect children our illustrious leader must make sure the the child’s parents are in the correct frame of mind to look after the welfare of the child and nurture them to responsible adulthood, the stresses and strains of total distraction and total dis-illusion at the financial castastropy which prevails in many thousands of homes inpacts greatly on the ability of parents to rear children and indeed to mantain a family unit, I know this first hand, and I am aware of financial issues which my children know about that they should not have to worry about!
    Remember Enda, first things first! Food, Heat, Clothing and Shelter, if any of these basics are missing the chidrens rights ARE! being impinged on , and thats without the need for a referendum!So, keep supporting the broke Bank’s, keep supporting the corrupt Banker’s and keep feathering your own nests at the expense of children and you reap what you sow!!
    It continues every day, we see now with the policy of punishing the son or daughter for the sins of the father in relation to the Household Charge!
    As parents we must provide a nurturing, safe, secure environment for our children but this, and the last government are making this impossible for a large segment of Irish families, so again I say to you Enda,

    • Tony

      Great point. My eldest son was 5 when my business went to the wall. My youngest was 18 months old.
      The older guy is, in the main, calm and discusses things as best he can at his age. But the little fellah is a raving lunatic. He screams when things dont go his way, in a way his older brother never did. He shouts and angers very easily.
      I like to think its their different personalities, but I fear its got more to do with how I handled things as my future, and theirs, appeared to disintegrate before my very eyes.

      The unbelievable stress has almost finally waned to a point where it’s simply become the manageable worry of paying bills and feeding the four of us. I’ve stopped losing my reason at the slightest thing. Now I just need to decide which therapist my youngest son will go to.

      • gizzy

        Well put Tony hope you are getting through it. I am closing my last business down Friday week as it is no longer viable. Will have no job to go to for the first time in thirty years. Have to summon the energy to try something else still have two young kids. Business gone house for sale Childrens Rights Enda ??

        • redriversix

          Good Luck Gizzy

          I wish you & your family well.I have been their and done that and you will be just fine.The biggest enemy we have have is our own head and all the negatives it brings up.

          Live one day at a time,not easy but you can with practice ,letting go of everything that happened “yesterday” is vitally important to you and your family’s well being.

          Today is the start of the rest of your life…Congratulations.

          You know where I am if you need anything…….

          Kind regards


          • Tony

            RR6 is spot on. Our biggest hurdle is getting “past the past” and moving on. Gizzy, If the stress gets too much, my advice is to try to get away from anyone who may be immediately affected by moodiness or indeed anger. Take a walk, do some exercise etc. and then find a way to fill your head with positive and (ideally) motivating thoughts.
            Plenty of blogs and such out there, although I’m sure this site isn’t one of them. I wish you all the best.

          • Grey Fox

            Good Luck to you all, as RR6 says, one day at a time, it is the only way now, I just had the receiver appointed to the premises my business operated from, I have come to terms with it, so cest la vie, the four basics are all I am concerned with now, keep your heads up, none of you did anything at all wrong! we all know the perpetrators of the demise of small business in Ireland, pretty soon people will wake up and see that they have no choice anymore, only the chain stores, one identical to the next, limited choice and un admitted price controls. Take Care!

    • Indeed, what additional responsibilities is the State adopting and funding as a result of these new rights/obligations? And is the funding thereof ring fenced?


    With the birth rate and natural increase @ an all time high, how the **** is the economy going to generate work for 80,000 school leavers per annum ? Return to the 1950′s and net emigration of 400,000 in a single decade ? Forget about generating employment for those on the rock ‘n roll. You need a turbo charged American economy to generate the annual % increase in employment levels needed. Still the UK is generating half a million private sector postions per yr, unfortunately Pat has to contend with mass immigration from eastern europe.Sigh.

    • StephenKenny

      The UK is generating half a million jobs a year? Fascinating, especially given the debt position of the UK government, consumer, and business – worse than anywhere except Japan.

      On top of that, it just isn’t true. But given the fantasy that passes for reality these days, why not just make it a round million?

      • bonbon

        It’s done the same way the US BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) IMPUTES JOBS from a financial index. These jobs do not exist or have just gone.

        Sure they can point to the figures, graphs etc.

        For instance sales of PC’s or likely now iPads, are imputed to mean for business purposes. A SME uses so and so much units, so the jobs just must be there somewhere, Ben, if you could just find them.
        People completely cut off security, fall off the lists, a negative job-creation!

        All because of incredibly incompetent economics.

    • bonbon

      Well look at this report for how to do it. Drop any Tiger liberal silliness, and listen to what FDR did, and we will do :

      The American economy is a shambles. Now look at this :

      So it is up to you. Never mind current job stats, they are all lies everywhere.

      • Adam Byrne

        I’m reading this Mr. bonbon. Why do they criticize globalization and then launch into a lengthy discussion about world trade?

        • bonbon

          Because globalization, an extended maritime trade system from British Empire roots, and Eurasian Landbridge trade are two totally different economic systems.
          Land-based trade involves cities and production along the route. Maritime involve no production along the route, no capital creation. A Tanker taking 48 days to move has its static contents sold up to 50 times with no change except speculative price. Thus globalization has concentrated production and consumption at the most extreme distance possible for its ends.

          Ireland being an island, must link into land-based production-transport, and of course maritime Arctic raw-materials routes will now extend. Land-based high-speed transport of goods that are developed along the way at centers of production will put an end to the maritime globalized system which is the underpinning for the current doomed financial system anyway. The acute danger there is that food supply could collapse if land-based transport is delayed much longer.

          We are talking here about 500kmh Transrapid backbones from Rotterdam, Duisburg.. to Shanghai. Now it should be clear why so much was done to kill Transrapid – it threatens maritime globalization directly, as does the nuclear power needed.

          This is physical economics.

      • Adam Byrne

        Finished it Mr. bonbon. This is all very well but what are the chances of it actually happening? Zero if you ask me. I have no confidence that the clowns in office on both side of the Atlantic will ever be put out of office and if they are, who will replace them? Another shower of corrupt and evil clowns.

  5. george

    The Irish Society will be better served by a referendum to establish a maximum salary for the Public and Private Sector, that would be a maximum of lets say, five times the average industrial wage.

    Yesterday I told a friend of mine, that this coming referendum can be the best chance we have, of getting rid of this Government, some of whose politicians while campaigning for the election that put them in power, were saying that they were not going to introduce Property Tax. And now is likely that every cut they failed to do ,and will fail to implement, like the one related to the Public Sector allowances and many others, are going to be charge in taxes and through cuts, to the people who is totally against the wall.

    Nobody wants to deal appropriately with the top section of the Public Sector that is getting salaries and conditions that not even in Germany, the most powerful economy in Europe, public servants and professionals are getting. Nobody wants to deal with the nonsense of Child Benefit, when already people in need with children, receive assistance for it. And nobody wants to cut Public Sector Pensions accordingly. And in the first place everything should’ve started with “debt forgiveness”, followed by the above.
    And lets call a spade a spade, we don’t have the better politicians, doctors, teachers, solicitors, or engineers and others in the world, we have the most expensive ones, with more holidays, lump sums, and golden handshakes, than anywhere else, when we are not the steam engine of Europe.

    I don’t have great sympathy for the Political Parties on the left, but I do like and respect some politicians in that group, and although they are not as realistic as I would like them to be, I see them as the only hope of rocking the boat, and change things in favour of a new type of Ireland, where the Public Sector elite and the Professionals who thrive with them, don’t get more than in other European Countries. And at least they talk about making pay for this fiasco, to the ones that have the most. So we could give them a chance, and hope that things will evolve in the best possible way.

    But my fear is that even if this Government falls before the Budget, our electorate who in the past has shown complicity with our politicians and elites, are going to end putting Fianna Fail, or other Conservative Coalition, back in power.
    So why are we so afraid of a Federal Europe, when we are unable to put the foundation of a new Ireland, as the people of Iceland has done for their Country. So I rather have a new Government from the left, or a Federal Europe; than this “cukooland country” full of “spin doctors” we have now.

  6. molly

    Everything this government does is a step backwards .
    Unemployment and low take home pay under the present government and the past government have left such a scar on the very people this government where elected to protect, how on gods earth are they going to protect children who need proper support .
    Proper support cost money , food cost money, time cost money .
    When the cuts came who took most of the unfair pain and when the next round of cuts come the same will happen.
    Can enda

  7. molly

    Can enda explain to the mother who is in the shopping market why her food bill has to be so low and why she struggles to feed her kids and her children don’t get the proper intake of food they should get or when the laser card is rejected because of lack of funds.
    But then enda does not know what’s its like to struggle nor does any of his fellow cohorts

    • Peter Atkinson

      Exactly.No matter who you vote for now they will still embark on the tried and broken system of governance.Remember nobody wants to change a system that rewards its implementors for failure.Sure why would ya.

      Unlike that song “Won’t get fooled again” from a great band called the the Who I’m afraid we get fooled everytime and worse again we keep voting for it.

      Same shit from different assholes I’m afraid only these assholes are a bit tight and when the shit does arrive it comes in bucketfulls.

      • Steaf35

        Precisely. As I have stated before the country requires a new political party to tackle the such issues; the present offerings are far too inadequate and are removed from reality.

  8. gizzy

    The referendum is a major distraction and only of real interest to sections of the media, politicians, civilservants and lobby groups. Of course 100 % of the people agree with childrens rights but almost all realise these rights are best protected by parents in 98% of cases. As David wrote in another article they are best protected by their Dad who now has to spend most of his time away from them working over seas. This crowd in power only want to preach at the citizens about our behaviour. So focus on road deaths which kill 400 but ignore suicides which kills thousands. Focus on non payment of propety tax but ignore that 4 out of every 5 euros of local authority spend is wages and allowances not services. Focus on cuts in services in health but ingore huge inefficiencies that vested interests protect. Chase citizens for taxes then give a large portion to overseas investors. If the citizen ask questions then lie, evade or create anoth distraction for the media or worse still take the high moral ground and preach.

  9. rebean

    I suppose people are more worried about feeding and clothing their children right now than reading through a referendum in detail. All I can say is that the Govt are lucky this is not an election or there would be hell to pay. The electorate are waiting in the long grass and the next budget will see the beginning of unrest. The present parties have not delivered on one election promise in 18 months.

  10. padser

    Did you see Kathleen Lynch in the Dail yesterday, defending James Reilly (quite vociferously), in the no-confidence-motion. But only recently herself slated Reilly, cos he refused her request for funding.

    If she was not as vociferous in his defence, I wouldn’t have thought much of it, indeed poor Ruari Quinn sitting beside her, was writhing with embarrassment almost, listening to her tirade against the former Government, for their failure’s in the HSE.

    Point being, she as much supported in James Reilly, what she was blaming FF for. Her sentiment, suggests (that considering ‘nobody’ can touch any part of the HSE, cos of the dire backlash from its Unions) that he James Reilly would be as fit for the job, as even the worst possible candidate anybody could imagine!

    So, it’s official! Two wrongs do make a right! Another lesson, in defiance of conventional thinking in a crisis.

  11. padser

    Is it not time to change the democratic system of governance as we know it. Throw out that ‘representative style’ democracy, to a ‘direct’ system.

    We are ultimately being Governed by “the EU” and seem’s since the crisis we are in – always will be…so why not cut out the ‘overpaid shit’ in between?

    • We have neither, and Ireland is the size of a German state/Bundesland. Let’s ask for temporary economic occupation. The Germans will be cheaper than our own!

    • bonbon

      You will get that with the ESM, and the democratic Troika. Directly with no pesky gov’mint getting in the way of the great plan.

      The ESM gives itself eternal immunity for whatever they do.

      This is Mr. Blair’s “governance”. He’s even got you yelling for it. Makes him smile at such poster-boys.

  12. padser

    With the new “Interconnecter” from Eir Grid up and running today….from County Meath to somewhere in the UK, to supply 300,000 homes with electricity in Ireland. And being hailed as an example of “a benefit” of a more centralised Europe (“Superstate”)….I’m a bit cynical, cos if Kate Middleton’s melon’s show up in an Irish newspaper again, it wouldn’t surprise me, if the Anglo-Maniac’s, decide to pull the plug for punishment.

    • bonbon

      BNFL is doing very well. They do not swallow the green mumbo-jumbo Britain dishes out for export to the gullible.

      Germany stopped 17 nuclear reactors, and now begs abroad for power. France is happy to oblige, but at the first grid instability will cut to protect its trafo’s.

      Same for the UK.

      These “intelligent grids” are what blacked out 50 million on the US and Canadian East coast a couple of years ago. In fact the mother of all bankruptcies, ENRON, the Ranch at the Crokked E, pioneered this.

  13. Adam Byrne


  14. Adam Byrne

    How come there were two articles today?

  15. gizzy

    The country needs a new political party. it needs all of us to join and be active. We cannot just continue to give out about the current incumbents they have no desire, intention or skill set to change anything. they are spoofers and chancers. Enda Kenny as a leader of a country come on, an old grumpy man as minister of finance, Howlin couldn’t change a tyre, Gilmore makes Kenny look plausible by comparison. It won’t change with them in charge. Set up a new party I will join, I will run in Kildare.

    As to UK bankruptcy I have looked at it and then I look at my two young sons and then

  16. coldblow

    Hi David

    Let’s see now.

    Enda is the man who told the people of Roscommon in his election campaign that their hospital would not be touched.

    Gilmour has to look after his interests (including the half mill from the missus’ bit of land) while also striving to look concerned and caring for the most vulnerable.

    As for Frances, I’ve forgotten where her constituency is. Oh yes, the Irish Times (representing the Public Piety Party).

    The trio are fully representative of the Irish ruling class and its phoney ‘liberal’ ideology which yet manages to remain indignant, aggressive and patronizing. It is the view accepted by the extravert half of the population (just as they had accepted the Catholic Ireland ideology in an earlier time) and by a good portion of the introspective half who really should know better. Does the Irish ruling class include anyone who does not subscribe (at least with lipservice in public) to this ideology? Hence the importance of making sure, just to keep the faithful on their toes, that there are always a handful of sinister characters, ‘unreconstructed’ FF-ers prominent among them, plotting a coup behind the scenes to introduce a right-wing theocracy. Georg’s ‘nexus’ in other wordsd. But why go looking for conspiracies when it’s right there under your nose?

    I hadn’t thought at all about this, so thanks for tipping me off that this will certainly be about extending the powers of social workers. Sweden was a pioneer in social worker intervention. I visited a few times in my youth and it reminded me a bit of Milton Keynes or Basingstoke (or indeed Shannon) without the litter. People always asked “What do you think of Sweden” to which I would politely reply “It’s very clean”. After a lot of drink they told me they couldn’t stand the sh*thole.

    The quotation (“Childhood happens only once…”) is cringe-making. Our constitution is another world-beater. But I will “cherish” this quote.

    I wonder what Mick Wallace’s views will be on this. He collapsed in tears after speaking about abortion and being comforted by Clare Daly. I feel his pain, his inner child (which happened only once). Who says only wummen bleed?

    When Enda goes to Rome will he raise the HSE’s record on childcare with ‘Old Ratzinger’?

    Social workers. When my child was new born I was dragged out of my afternoon sleep by a loud knock at the door. As my wife wasn’t up to it I did 90% of the night duties, twice per night for and hour and a half at a time. “Is your wife there?” demanded the public health nurse (a militant wing of the social work profession). “She’s out in the garden. You just got me out of …” “It’s the mother’s health I am concerned about.” It’s best not to argue, these people are dangerous. I have had a few other experiences and they were all of a kind.

    A man I know told me that if the social workers ever came to his door for his child he’d drag him off to the nearest slurry pit. I want it to make it clear, in this age of ‘off duty’ lipreading policemen, that that man is not me and that all such talk is, er, inappropriate.

    The late Richard Webster’s website is excellent about this kind of thing. Here’s an example but there’s a lot more there. Ireland is of course not immune, cf the Primetime case. Webster talks about well-meaning individuals embarking on moral crusades and falling prey to garish conspiracy. In my view that is no excuse and they should be prosecuted.

    When all this falls apart I bet it’s not those who believe they are caring and concerned who will feel it the worst. The ruling class will be intact, the middle pushed down to the edges of poverty. The ideology will change but people will be too busy staying alive to notice.

    David, the article is arch and studenty. Nothing personal of course!

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