The Blanket

Cherishing The Children Of The Nation Equally

Liam O Ruairc • October 14, 2002

According to the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network, 38 per cent of children in the six counties live in homes which have below 30 per cent of average incomes after housing costs. One in three lone parents go regularly without food to enable their children to eat. (Belfast Telegraph, 27 September 2002). Republicans will be disturbed by these facts. The 1916 Proclamation states as a Republican objective to "cherish the children of the nation equally", something very relevant when one sees how children today are cherished unequally.

It might be objected that by African or East European standards, even the most deprived in the North can consider themselves relatively well off. Two week's unemployment benefit in Belfast is worth one month salary of a bank clerk in Budapest. But material deprivation is not just to be measured quantitatively (in terms of financial income) but also in its qualitative consequences. Someone relatively well off can decide, for example, to live in any area of town, whereas someone dependent on housing benefits or a very small budget is constrained to live in the affordable areas. This is particularly tragic for some. The Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network established that 69 per cent of households in
interface communities earn less than £5000. If they could afford it, they would certainly move away from such difficult areas. Any parent wants to be able to offer the best to their children. Because of such limited financial resources, parents are not even able to offer their children a peaceful place to grow up. Children have the universal right to grow up in a peaceful environment, and a child in Alliance Avenue, because his/her family's lack of money will have to put up with things like pipe bombs.

Apart from the violence related to the political situation, children growing up in working class areas will also have to put up with other violence associated to those areas: joyriding, drugs, hoods, etc. This is a hindrance to a good quality of life. The reign of freedom begins where the kingdom of necessity ends, and comfortable financial resources gives you the freedom that living in material necessity does not allow you. Because of relative material deprivation, there are constraints on 38 per cent of our children to realise themselves as human beings. Culture and education are a privilege. How many more Michel Angelos and Mozarts for example would there be if working class children could afford to have access to educational and cultural resources of the highest standard? Just imagine that this joyrider or that glue sniffer could have been perhaps a Joyce or a Picasso! Socialism is not just about giving everybody a roof, food and health care (otherwise prisons would be an example of socialism!); it is about, through removing the constraint of material deprivation, giving people the possibility to realise themselves as human beings; it is to quote Marx and Engels "an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all". The leap in the reign of freedom means that anyone in whom there is a potential Raphael or Michelangelo should be able to develop without material hindrance. That is why we are Republican Socialists.






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It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.
- Arthur Calwell
Index: Current Articles

17 October 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Statement from Republican Prisoners, Maghaberry


Running on Empty
Anthony McIntyre


The Political Treachery at the Heart of the IRA

Toby Harnden


Adams' Ashes
Brian Mór


The Boys of the New Brigade
Brian Mór


The Original 1930's Classic Blue Shirt
Brian Mór


Cherishing the Children of the Nation Equally
Liam O Ruairc


Republicanism and the Crisis Within the Peace Process
Davy Carlin


13 October 2002


Just Say No
Ciarán Irvine


Full of Sound & Fury
Aine Fox


The Edge of the Abyss...Again

Brendan O'Neill


If You're In, You Can't Win
Anthony McIntyre


How Clever Was Adams?
Henry Patterson


Please, My Friend is Being Tortured
Sam Bahour




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