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A Reflection on the Referendum

Since 2012 I have lived with M.E, an illness that is both deeply complex and largely misunderstood in equal amounts. While the trajectory of my journey of recovery has generally been on an upward curve, and for the past number of years I have found myself living as close to a normal life as could be expected, the past number of weeks I have hit a large impasse. I haven’t feared for my future this much in a long time, as I prepare for more hospital visits, journeys that I forgot filled me with such trepidation.

So what has all this got to do with the 8th amendment referendum I hear you ask? Today has been a tough day mentally, as I struggle to get to grips with the abject disappointment of my current health, and the impact this is having on my life today. As I spent much of this morning in silence, I began thinking about the issue of so called 'hard cases' that have been mentioned ad nauseam by both sides in the current debate. I have no doubt that I would not be considered a &#…
Recent posts

'The Irish Social Worker' - The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, a critique.

While Ireland still grapples with a litany of historical failures in respect of children; professionals, policy makers, and legislators have recognised the need for policy and law that concerns children to be in a consistent state of evolution. This is recognised as crucial to account for evolving societal norms, growing research with respect to childhood experiences, as well as the archaic nature of much of Irish legislation and policy. Consequently, it could be interpreted that any policy or legislative shift is conducive to Ireland making positive strides in enhancing the rights of children, advocating for positive childhood experiences, as well as developing policy and legislation that is more in line with the contemporary realities of Irish families, where children are born to non-married parents much more frequently. Notwithstanding this however, it is crucial that we are cognisant of the need to remain objective when examining any and all perceived ‘advancements’ in policy and …

Children, and the 8th amendment debate

The eight amendment debate has been vitriolic, and thus far raw emotion, intolerance, hysterical claims, and a lack of insight into opposing views have formed the entire premise on which to argue ones ‘cause’. Just a number of weeks ago, as I walked down Patrick Street in Cork, I observed a ‘prolife’ lobby group displaying the now all too familiar gruesome imagery, that their propaganda machine deems appropriate to exhibit. It was a Saturday afternoon, at prime time trading hours, on one of the busiest thoroughfares in Cork; their position ensured they had the capacity to engage a critical mass of families. Somewhat astonishingly, the group’s obliviousness to the damage such imagery could have on a child’s emotional well being only became apparent to me when I pointed out this fact directly to them. They weren’t for turning. Unfortunately, the ironic disregard for children’s well being in this current debate is nothing new. In the past week, I have observed children holding placards a…

Our Future

A conversation I had with a young person in recent times sticks out in my head this week. Young people can often be accused of being self absorbed and disengaged with the world around them; in many instances that is true, but weren’t we all at that age? However, amidst our ever-increasing busyness, and incapacity to relate and connect with one another on a human level, we can overlook the insight of our youth, and the lessons they can teach us all. 

It was a wind-ranging conversation, with some impressive insight on behalf of the young person keeping me hugely engaged. However, what I found most fascinating was their assertion that human beings seem to be sleepwalking into a crisis we may not have the capacity to get out of. Probably even more incisive was their understanding of why this was; this young person displayed an acute awareness of the pressures and distractions that come with existing in contemporary times. While they didn’t offer this as an excuse for inaction, they were si…

'TheJournal.ie' - Social Work, the backlash

Three years ago I began my journey to become a professional social worker. Back then, Ireland’s torched economy smothered any prospects of a career within Ireland for my classmates and I. It mattered little. My experience of chronic illness since the winter of 2011 had not only changed my career goals and life ambitions, but also offered me an insight into the necessity of social supports to someone experiencing sudden, acute or more chronic vulnerability. I felt equipped to put myself in someone else's shoes through my experience of illness, as well as issues I had faced as an adolescent. I was hopeful that I could be a positive influence on vulnerable people’s lives. In September I will enter my fourth and final year of training. My perception of many aspects of society has evolved dramatically in the last three years. Regretfully, one of the most striking transformations has been in my understanding of the public’s perception of the role and integrity of social workers. I alway…

'Broadsheet.ie' - We get what we deserve

Last Friday night's appearance by Brendan O'Connor on The Late Late Show has got huge media attention in recent days. During the course of his interview, Brendan, who has a daughter living with Down Syndrome, was at pains to point out the plight of children living with disabilities in Ireland, and the lack of services available to them and their families. While the portion of the interview dedicated to his experience and insight was extremely powerful, and no doubt resonated with families the length and breadth of Ireland, I couldn’t help feeling that an opportunity had been lost after watching it. Too often in Ireland, when we are confronted with injustice and inequality, we are content to simply pay lip service to the particular issue, pontificating briefly, before ultimately moving on, without ever trying to understand how we can make changes in order to alleviate the issue. Unfortunately, Friday night was no different, in my opinion. 

Ireland is unique in so many great ways…

'The Irish Examiner' - Homelessness

The gates of UCC were blurred, as sheets of heavy rain ricocheted off the outside of the windscreen, condensation now varnishing the inside. I perched my head forward and peered up, trying to get a better view of the B&B which had become obscured since we had parked. Next to me, my practice teacher spoke with someone on the phone, the anxiety and concern evident in her voice. “She’s up in Drinan street collecting the cheque”, said the distressed voice on the other end of the phone. Outside, students shuffled past a long line of street lamps, all of them draped with general election slogans. It appeared recovery was in the air, and we needed to keep it going. Meanwhile, just a ten minute walk away, a young woman and her three year old child queued in a small office on a side street, seeking financial assistance in order that they could access the security and warmth of the B&B I now had in my view. She desperately needed the cheque she was queuing for, but that desperation had …