When the special rapporteur on child protection Conor O’Mahony pointed out that the children’s amendment to the Constitution in 2015 was “an opportunity lost” and a “timid version of reform” he, probably unintentionally, pointed to a persistent cultural failing that engenders cynicism.
“We ended up with ... mostly window dressing,” he said.
Mr O’Mahony has pointed to what he describes as defective legislation, an accusation that can be made in other areas too.
That half-heartedness is often exacerbated by our pretend policing where legislation designed to serve the common purpose is all but ignored.
The European Commission’s request that the Department of the Marine review the effectiveness of its policing of commercial fishing after the discovery of a litany of breaches is one example. The myriad cases where homeowners are forced to cough up thousands to repair defective new buildings is another. Tracker mortgages anyone?
The message is not, thankfully, entirely negative.
Mr O’Mahony did stress that progress is being made and said the creation of an independent child and family agency “was the right thing to do” despite criticisms of Tusla. He will, during his term, prioritise a review of the Child Care Act, examine the voluntary care system and the processing of legacy cases.
These are noble objectives but it is hard not to think that Mr O’Mahony, like many others in similar positions, is not trying to do his job with one hand tied behind his back.