We were late to the party, and it was only in the last week that I heard about the big Dublin Parade for the centenary commemorations of the 1916 Rising. I should have planned in advance, but I was a wee bit busy with other things, and the morning did not go quite to plan.
Despite that, Smiley had a great time soaking up the atmosphere, and she made it her mission to spread joy and happiness on the streets of Dublin. But we couldn't see anything or get anywhere near the disabled viewing spots, there were barriers to cars and people in every direction. So we gave up and went for coffee instead. Only to find out later from the TV coverage that many people with disabilities were allowed to watch from in front of the barriers. But no-one suggested that to us. It was all a bit frustrating.
And I was reminded of the words of the proclamation about cherishing all the nation's children, and of the real life barriers that prevent that happening for so many children, eloquently expressed this morning by my friend Grainne from AsIAm.
Am I the only one who feels that all the talk hype and celebrations surrounding '1916' is a bit more like the Emperor's new clothing? I listen to little children innocently read The Proclamation, in both the original and their own version.
'The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities of all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally'.
While I respect the acknowledgement of those who played their part historically, I find it sickening that people of Ireland can read that proclamation over and over and still not see the irony of the celebrations.
All children of our nation are far from being treated equally. My son like hundreds of others is denied an education and the chance of a secure future in this country because he has autism and 'the resources aren't there'. He like so many others cannot recite the proclamation because 'the resources aren't there for speech therapy'. He can't write his version of the proclamation because 'the resources aren't there' to provide occupational therapy.
50 million euro was available. Where did it go? Parades, pomp and ceremony. After the parades and celebrations are over, what then?
If every child who has worked all year on their historical revival of the proclamation actually understands what 'equality and inclusion' really means.
If my child never has to experience bullying and exclusion again.
If I never have to endure the 'looks' and heartless comments about my child's behaviour, or hear why he can't join his local club, attend his local school, or do what every other child in the country has a natural right to.
If I could know that children like him are not excluded from Birthday party invitations or that their own invitations to their class mates are not refused by their ignorant parents.
If the Government actually began to consider my child and others like him as worthy members of society and not second class citizens.
Then and only then might I consider celebrating.
Reprinted with permission.
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