Tuesday 22 August 2017

Yes to equality, but not it seems for our most vulnerable

'Our children are our most vulnerable citizens. They require the fullest protection and care of our State. We agreed to provide them with this when we voted in favour of the Children's Rights Referendum back in 2012'
'Our children are our most vulnerable citizens. They require the fullest protection and care of our State. We agreed to provide them with this when we voted in favour of the Children's Rights Referendum back in 2012'

Paul D'Alton

The text read "everything has changed" with two smiley faces. It came from my mother on the morning following the marriage equality referendum. The two smiley faces were from her and my dad or maybe they were to me and my husband. It felt like everything had changed that day.

In many ways the resounding Yes in favour of same-sex marriage was something of an atonement for our treatment of vulnerable minorities in Irish society in the past and a commitment to treat our most vulnerable better in the future. My mother, raised in Ireland of the 1940 and 50s, witnessed and lived the harshness of an intolerant, moralistic, religiously motivated, highly socially controlled country. Her text on that historic morning reflected the longing and hope that things would never be the same again. That we would do better by our most vulnerable citizens.

As the marriage equality referendum day approached, the focus of the debate increasingly centred on the welfare of children. As the referendum day neared, the welfare of children dominated the airwaves and our lamp posts. Striking visual images of children and highly emotive catchphrases festooned our streets. There were passionate and emotive debates about the best interests of our nation's young people. It seemed we really did care about our most vulnerable citizens. It seemed they were being put at the heart of our national discourse. It seemed we were concerned about equality for all and were committed to do better by our most vulnerable.

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