Childcare in Ireland – has anything changed?

toddlercrying_largeFollowing the screening, on Tuesday 28 May 2013, of RTE’s investigative programme ‘Breach of Trust’, which raised serious concerns about the standards of childcare in Ireland, based on evidence gathered from HSE Inspection reports, internal HSE documentation and undercover filming in three crèches, people in Ireland felt shock and horror. Staff were shoving toddlers to sleep, forcing them to eat, leaving babies to cry for long periods, strapping children to their chairs for up to two hours… The programme that demonstrated that standards in three crèches were in breach of HSE regulations and childcare guidelines, was followed by an investigation by the Health Services Executive and the Garda, upon complaints by parents about the mistreatment of their young children.

I went back to Who’s Minding the Children?, a book I co-wrote with Geraldine Niland (and Stella McMahon on Northern Ireland), published by Attic Press in 1980.  Many of the issues highlighted by RTE were covered in our 1980 book. Here I quote from the final chapter, ‘The future and what needs to be done’ to demonstrate that while our demand to introduce day care has been met, largely by private operators, some things have not changed in relation to childcare in Ireland, a country obsessed with protecting unborn children, but apparently less concerned with children after they are born. Some things have changed, of course. In 1980 crèches were few and far between, today there  clearly is  a wide supply; our demand for a Department for Children has been met; finally, today I would not insist that childcare is a women’s issue – it’s clearly a parents’ issue. However, some things have not changed, particularly in relation to standards, training, inspection, and fair wages to staff; and reading the 1980 conclusion is interesting : Continue reading “Childcare in Ireland – has anything changed?”

Bloodline diaspora nations

d79ed795d7a1d794-d79ed7a8d799d794On 14-15 May a Diaspora Forum conference was held in Fitzpatrick’s Hotel in Dublin. It aimed to celebrate migration, migrants and the contribution the diaspora makes to home countries. Keynote speaker, the Economist business editor Robert Guest celebrated mass migration, which, he said, makes the world brainier. If a century ago, migrants crossed the ocean and never saw their homeland again, today they phone or Skype home the moment their plane lands. Thanks to cheap travel and easy communications, immigrants stay in contact with home, creating powerful cross-border networks that create wealth, spread ideas and foster innovation.

Diaspora, contributors to the conference emphasised, is mostly about economics: through remittances, philanthropy and direct diaspora investment, members of the diaspora are primarily seen as alumni who their original state needs to touch for contributions – a discourse all too familiar to anyone working in today’s neoliberal universities. Workshops debated the role of governments in engaging their diasporas across multiple sectors and constructing strategies aimed to create partnerships between government and diaspora. To copper fasten such engagements, the conference also discussed the payback in terms of granting migrants voting rights, and working for ‘host country integration and return migration platforms’. Continue reading “Bloodline diaspora nations”