Fergus Finlay: A first step toward improving lives of children facing abuse
IN the 50 years that Barnardos has been working with children in Ireland, the country has been through many changes. Since 1962 everything from our landscape, to the food we eat and the way we live our lives has changed gradually, each change reflecting the journey we've been on and the attitudes we've accumulated along the way. Little else in recent years has been so reflective of how much we've changed than the passing of the Children's referendum yesterday, Sunday, November 11, 2012. It is a date that we should all remember, one that will no doubt be reported in history books in years to come.
It is not an exaggeration to say that today marks a new beginning for Ireland's children. They are no longer unseen and unheard in our Constitution. They are now placed exactly where they belong: in the very heart of our law and our society.
The passing of this referendum is momentous. It demonstrates the things we can achieve when we put aside differences and work to a common goal in the best interests of the issues and people who matter most. The unprecedented support for the referendum across political parties; the unions including ICTU, SIPTU and IMPACT; sector representatives as diverse as the Irish Countrywoman's Association and the Bar Council of Ireland; and countless civil society organisations working across a range of issues shows just what can be accomplished in solidarity. It's an important lesson because the referendum is a first step on a new road towards improving children's lives in Ireland, especially those at risk.