From top: crowdfunding sites like GoFundme and IDonate: Hazel Katherine Larkin
All functional, loving parents strive to provide for their children. We accept – indeed, embrace – our responsibility to them. We know that it is our duty to ensure our offspring have the housing, clothing, education, and medical care that is suitable to, and appropriate for, their needs.
In a country like Ireland, when parents are unable – for whatever reasons – to provide for their children, it is expected that the collective social conscience will step in and help.
The administrative arm of this collective social conscience is largely expected to be the government. People pay up to 52% income tax (including PRSI and USC) on the understanding that it will be used to provide for the less well off; that the children of the nation will be minded; that the parents of children who have additional needs will be assisted.
Sadly, this is not the case. Increasingly, parents are having to put their pride in their pockets, and turn to fundraising sites in order to raise what they need to provide for their children.
It is humiliating for anyone to have to turn to the public to ask for help – especially because not everyone is compassionate, and people who do work up the courage to ask are often lambasted by people who feel that asking for help reeks of a sense of entitlement.
Instead of being annoyed with parents for asking for help so they can provide for their children, perhaps we should be annoyed with a government that is not honouring its social contract with the people of Ireland.
Perhaps we should be annoyed with a government that reduces citizens and tax-payers to beggars.
Perhaps we should be annoyed with a government that consistently ignores the pleas of the electorate.
Perhaps we should be annoyed with a government that consistently ignores the carefully researched, informed opinions of experts.
Perhaps we should be annoyed with a government that continues to undervalue the work that carers do in our society.
Perhaps we should be annoyed with a government that doesn’t seem to understand that, while individuals make up a society, Society is a collective, where the greater good of all members is considered.
Perhaps we should think, long and hard, about what we can possibly do to create a society where we are committed to providing the basics for all our children, and start to move towards a nation that fulfills the promise of the Proclamation of 1916 and ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally’.
Hazel Katherine Larkin is a ‘caffeine-fuelled social justice campaigner’. Follow Haxel on Twitter @HazelKLarkin.