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Protection Racket

Read more about: Child Abuse, Law, Scandal, Social Policy, Tribunals, Women's Rights, Youth     Print This Post

There are days when Ireland is a dispiriting place.  Consider the following three seemingly separate issues.  The HSE report into the life and death of TF.  Niamh Brennan’s still under wraps report on the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.  And the latest delay in the Moriarty Tribunal.  They have something in common: legal sensitivities are being invoked to prevent the public from knowing what exactly went on in these cases. 

With TF, who died in 2002 and the report therein completed 18 months ago, somehow there were still legal complications releasing the report.  The Attorney General is apparently still looking at the DDDA report before it can be released, notwithstanding Deirdre de Burca’s explosive hints about what is in there.  And into its 2nd decade, the Moriarty Tribunal is still circling around the core facts of the case, and Michael Lowry’s questions to Brian Cowen yesterday gave us just a glimpse of the intensive legal manoeuvres that still surround the effort to find facts in the telecom licence case — with everyone lawyered up at state expense from the start. 

In short, we’ve arrived at a situation where the apparent purpose of our legal system is to prevent or egregiously delay disclosure, and in doing so, impede broader public accountability.  We’re into multiple election cycles past the original events in some of the above cases, and people still don’t know what actually happened — all in the name of legal sensitivities.

So we’re at a stage where “legal issues” have become a veto over provision of information, when some balancing of individual rights and public right to know is appropriate.  And even if one thinks that the American approach of facts in the public domain quickly goes too far to the other extreme, there must still be middle ground between that approach and the current situation in Ireland.

One other thing on TF.  As Barry Andrews’ flustered reaction shows, the government doesn’t perform well without its talking points — which in this case would have noted that she died in 2002, report done in 2008, so it’s old news and all the deficiencies are being corrected, nothing to see here, move along folks.   But caught on the hop in this case, they now have to explain why there appear to be more cases like TF with reports on the shelf gathering dust. 

Anyone for a children’s rights referendum?

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2 Responses to “Protection Racket”

  1. # Comment by Colm Mar 5th, 2010 09:03

    I think the reason for the delays in each set of reports is slightly different in each case. In the case of HSE reports the reason is a hope that the issue will just go away and the people doing the coverup don’t regard the issue as important. The DDDA report is being delayed because it has expolsive political material and the people doing the coverup regard it as too important to release. In the case of the tribunals the reports are delayed because the legal eagles running it and taking part realise they will never make easier money again in their lives.

    On the question fo a children’s rights referendum it might help but I would be happy if some of the existing laws were implemented. The state completely failed these children but it is not right to say that the entire blame lies with the state alone. The families (many of whom are being celebrated in the media today) abondoned these children. It’s amazing how so many random relatives of these children suddenly discover that they really cared about the children they abused and abondoned once there is a whiff of compensation in the air.

    Various family members should surely stand in the dock beside the HSE officials to face charges of child neglect (an offence that exists in leglislation without any referendum). The state must take blame but the state should not be used to deflect blame.

  2. # Comment by Des Groome Mar 5th, 2010 19:03

    I wonder is there an ethos of trying to make serious human issues like child care and social services fit into a 9 to 5 public sector work day.
    How could you put a child supposedly ” in care” into a B and B- who then is in loco parentis? Private sector health care professionals provide 24/7 care… in private hospitals the ” my shift was over ” line isnt good enough. The three things that need to be joined together in Irish and HSE context perhaps are Ethics, Vocationalism and Accountability.

    Second point- to take the blame away from ” authorities”. You have to have a licence for a dog so why does just anyone get money from the government to be a parent?…
    I have spoken to one govt TD recently who says there is some serious thinking about maybe making the children’s allowance conditional on attending parenting classes at different stages of the childs life.