If you are in Ireland and happened to miss Claire Byrne live last night (Monday, March 14th), watch this to be reminded of the awful truth about the mental health services in our great little nation.
As we commemorate the centenary of the Proclamation of our Irish Republic for all Irish men and women (at the time of writing, the language itself was revolutionary in that it actually acknowledged the patriotism, citizenship and rights of women explicitly: something no other – to my knowledge – insurgents’ statement had done), let us pause and reflect on this modern Ireland.
As we watch our caretaker Taoiseach, our seasoned politicians and newly elected representatives take to the skies and land in greener fields to feast among the diaspora and big time world leaders; marketing our 26 counties to foreign investors and tourists, let’s just take a minute to remember that this is not the Ireland of the songs and stories, of the poems or legends.
This is a country where young people are dying because their country offers them no reason to stay alive and no means of finding the strength to escape it. This is a country where our most broken are literally being sent away from hospitals to die.
This is a country where charities like Pieta House are left by our government to deal with the depression, self harm and suicide crisis slicing its way across the island.
This is a country where children are sleeping in cars and on streets because their parents have nowhere else to take them: their homes sucked away in the aftermath of a government/banker orgy.
This is a country where rapists are given suspended sentences and funding for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has been cut so that it is forced to present victims with guideline fee requests of up to €70 per session. (They never force this point, although it’s humiliating enough to be faced with it when you are at your most vulnerable.)
This is a country where the victims of the barbarous symphysiotomy practice are literally being shredded from history.
This is a country where parents are still obliged to have their children baptised in order to get them into a good school (or the only school near them), often under the management of a religious order chaired Board representing a church which shirked its redress obligations under the RIRB.
This is a country where the last vestige of the church and State’s collusion in the gross misogynistic inhumanity committed against young mothers, Donnybrook laundry, is for sale and hoping to attract a plush development to the wealthiest constituency in the Republic. We glorify the sacrifice made in 1916: these women and their children, often sold to wealthy Americans, were denied any such glory and the last memory of their suffering is now to be glazed and balconied over.
This is a country where, on average, 10 women each day have no choice but to travel to England to access a service that has still not been legislated for despite abortion being technically legal if the woman’s life is at risk. If you have been raped, or if your child has no chance of survival outside the womb, you’re little more than vessel for another life or impending death: your own life is irrelevant.
This is a country where same sex couples can legally be married but homophobic attacks are still commonplace.
This is a country where our sick and old are left with no dignity in agony and despair, often dying, in chaotic hospital corridors.
This is a country where nurses, teachers and Gardaí: those on the frontline of the social consequences of failed leadership, cannot put food on the table.
This is a country where more air time has been devoted to endless bickering over Irish Water than to all of the real, life threatening issues above put together.
Isn’t it ironic that Hibernia, traditionally Britannia’s younger; helpless; vulnerable sister is the centremost statue on the GPO, the site of the first public reading of our fateful Proclamation? Still Hibernia’s daughters are forced across the sea to seek assistance in a country once our oppressor. Now the source of our oppression lives among us.
Romantic Ireland’s Dead And Gone.