When will we get political accountability for deaths of children in state care?

ON our watch, in our care, Daniel McAnaspie was kicked around, killed and dumped in a ditch in like a stray dog. But a child – mentioned anonymously and aspirationally in the 1916 proclamation.

Daniel will not have died in vain if the obscene pathos of his death leads us to confront reality. Yes, died on our watch. Brian Cowen and Mary Harney seek to cover themselves with shrivelled fig leaves. But they were the individual operatives whom we placed in charge of Daniel. Cowen and Harney are accountable even through the byzantine hierarchy of management and certainly through the ballot box. Ministers are glad enough to represent the Irish people on gala occasions, but not when something goes wrong. Then it is “the system” or some flunkey who may or may not be shifted to other duties.

If both the Taoiseach and Mary Harney (whom he insisted twice on keeping as Minister for Health and Children) were to take responsibility and resign, it would be a rare moment of truth, honour and decency. It would also send a message to all of us that we too must take responsibility for our failures and do whatever is necessary to improve things in the future.

The Dutch Government carried out a symbolic temporary resignation because the Dutch people accepted a measure of responsibility for the deaths of 7,500 Bosnians at Srebenica.

Much more is needed here. Not because some child (whose name may not even be recorded) is almost certainly being failed to the point of death by our system – but because our entire project as a sovereign nation capable of managing its own affairs is at risk.

If the prognoses of Morgan Kelly, David McWilliams, et al, are correct, we are hurtling straight into the juggernaut of global economic reality.

Do we have to do this the hard way, after further failures, and through an eventual general election held under circumstances which we may not be able to control with the markets wolf pack at our door – if not already inside?

Or can we use our innate political skills and create a national government capable of mobilising us as a nation?

It is doubtful whether anyone now in the cabinet can begin to understand the concepts being set out here. So the buck shifts to those TDs who keep the Government in power ... to their consciences ... to their moral and constitutional duty to represent us ... to do what has to be done.

Maurice O’Connell

Fenit Without



Co Kerry

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