It is a week for activism it seems with a national campaign of protests and demonstrations kicking off in Cork. The USI “Fed Up? Stand Up!” Campaign is covered in part, by Stephen Barry in this issue and yesterday’s protest is reviewed online at www.uccexpress.net. It seems that these are times for action on a myriad of causes but that should not lead us to become apathetic towards action. Our vote and our voice are two of the most important gifts we possess and now, more than ever, we should seek to use them.
This Saturday, the Irish people are being given the opportunity to have their say on the Constitution. The Children’s Rights Referendum marks a bigger step forward for human rights in Irish history than it may on its face seem. Bestowing children with inalienable rights would be a long overdue step for our founding document and would make strong steps forward in the protection of some of this country’s most vulnerable.
Reporter Lorna Gardiner goes into greater detail as to what this referendum change will mean but it is now up to you to educate yourselves too. For the first time, in the history of the state, polls will open on a Saturday. This move to facilitate workers and students is certainly a step forward for democracy for our state and puts the onus squarely on voters to turn up and cast their ballots.
While, in my opinion, and indeed for every party of the Oireachtas, it seems like an easy decision to make, it is important that we do not presume to know the result. Seemingly “less controversial” Irish referenda have traditionally attracted lower levels of engagement but we should not accept any level of mandate for a constitutional change. Rather, we should aim for the strongest we can deliver. Bunreacht na hÉireann is the most important document that we have and yet on the day 51% of any turn-out will make the decision.
Decisions are made by those who show up. Therefore it is imperative that we read the literature and get out and vote for our preference, whatever it may be.
And as they say, vote early and often.