When an article offends is it offensive ???


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One thing that is worth considering when looking at our personal life journey is how we react to others opinions and especially this article by Michael Patwell. To denigrate and cast Judgement is to do what we are offended by on a regular basis, JUDGE. When we in the Adoption community feel that we are not being heard or that at times we are not being agreed with then that can lead to hurt, pain and anger. Likewise if we want to have our opinions heard and accepted (not necessarily agreed with) then we need to accept that some people’s experiences are different than ours. In this one sided article (his view only) he clearly says that he was treated well, that what he saw was love and kindness. That may be a rose tinted perspective but it is his experience. I for one won’t take that away from him but if I ever got the chance I would try to educate him to the other side of the story. He is clearly right on one thing though, it is of its time as is all of history, things were done very differently then, children and women were lesser humans and were seen as a commodity. We continue to live with appalling practices in social care settings and the secularisation of the care field hasn’t led to a seismic shift in the care of the vulnerable. There will be investigations in the future and people will be accused of ignoring the pain of others or accused of ignoring the positive experience of others. If we continue to try to acknowledge history from only one perspective then we are ignoring history and creating an excluding dialogue, thus marginalising others as we would not like to be marginalised. Michael Patwell has written a piece that is his perspective only, and as much as it annoys me I still own my story and am as strident in my opinion as he is.

Adrian McKenna is a frontline Social Care Professional; he has worked and Managed for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services, homeless services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. He is a Committee Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, A Member of the Social Care workers Registration Board at CORU, A Member of Social Justice Ireland and was on the National Committee of the YES Campaign for Children. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.

“It is Morally Unacceptable”


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Ireland in 2008 was precariously close to financial bankruptcy or so we were lead to believe, the underlying message of the day was that we were morally obliged to save the money men and do the bidding of the financial behemoths of the European experiment. What has outraged activists and advocates since then is the way Ireland Inc. has abandoned all sense of values, ethics and morals and not just in the Christian sense.

There are on a daily basis campaigns springing up to support individuals and/or groups of Irish people who are feeling more and more marginalised, more and more abandoned, more and more ignored and less and less able to have a voice and be heard.

The message from the government is once we pay our bills and look after the European Union then everything will be ok. They operate in a world of platitudes, the world must see that we are ok, that we are still willing to help others, that we can and will send aid to other nations, that we will ride in on a white horse and rescue those who are struggling all over the world. That in itself is of course right and just, where the difficulty arises is when those that are marginalised in our society are being ignored.

If we accept that morality has many sub texts but broadly include a personal belief in what is right and wrong, is regarded in terms of what is known to be right or just, as opposed to what is officially or outwardly declared to be right or just, is a way of giving guidance on how to behave decently and honourably, frames what is good or right, when judged by the standards of the average person or society at large and is based on an inner conviction, in the absence of physical proof. Then we cannot accept what is happening in this Country either morally or ethically.

It is morally unacceptable for the old to be cold in their homes,

It is morally unacceptable for the rich to have gotten richer and the poor to have gotten poorer during a time of financial crisis

It is morally unacceptable for us to use the criminal justice system to deal with our addicted citizens,

It is morally unacceptable for us to keep people on trollies in hospitals,

It is morally unacceptable for us as a nation to think that offering someone a bed in a hostel is a solution to homelessness,

It is morally unacceptable for Ireland Inc. to deny the wrongdoings of the past in relation to the incarceration of women and children in Magdalene and other institutions,

It is morally unacceptable for us to have given away our rights to the gas and oil in our waters,

It is morally unacceptable for NAMA to be selling our assets to buyers from all over the world when we can’t or won’t house our most needy,

It is morally unacceptable for leaders of large NGO’s who support the marginalised to be involved in financial and ethical corruption,

It is morally unacceptable for us to allow generation after generation believe that social welfare is the only way for them to live,

It is morally unacceptable for us not to have a living wage,

It is morally unacceptable for the citizens to have no say in local and national governance,

It is morally unacceptable for freedom of information to become more restrictive instead of less,

It is morally unacceptable for us to accept inequality of choice,

It is morally unacceptable for young people leaving care to be allowed go straight into homelessness,

It is morally unacceptable for us to ignore the wisdom of the elderly,

It is morally unacceptable for us to allow private companies profit out of human pain,

It is morally unacceptable for the civil service to apparently have no mechanism to hold people individually responsible for their mistakes,

It is morally unacceptable for us to pay lip service to the notion of whistleblowing,

 It is morally unacceptable for the Garda to be used as a private security force,

It is morally unacceptable for Ireland Inc. to attempt to criminalise protest,

It is morally unacceptable for some in society to be prevented from having access to their birth cert/file

It is morally unacceptable for the Government of the day to forget that society is made up of a collection of individuals and that the strong need to support the weak,

It is morally unacceptable for us to not recognise those that have risen from lives of challenge to lives of moral positives, look at Katie Taylor (https://twitter.com/KatieTaylor ) (sports person), Elaine Harrington (https://twitter.com/TMMissElayneous ) (performance artist), Rachel Keogh (https://twitter.com/rachaelkeogh1 ) (therapist), Christina Buckley, RIP (former golden bridge resident) and on and on and on,

It is morally unacceptable for us to allow countless children finish school with no education and a potential life of hardship as a social welfare user,

It is morally unacceptable for the Government to be dishonest and ethically bankrupt,

It is morally unacceptable for each and every one of us to not take the opportunity to make a positive contribution to someone else’s life,

Let’s build relationships that are morally, ethically, respectful and caring, if we used that as the starting tenet of governance then we might see some growth and change both individually and collectively.

Adrian McKenna is a frontline Social Care Professional; he has worked and Managed for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services, homeless services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. He is a Committee Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, A Member of the Social Care workers Registration Board at CORU, A Member of Social Justice Ireland and was on the National Committee of the YES Campaign for Children. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.

The Language we use……


I was at a very interesting event today where we spent time looking at the proposed language to be used in some documents. Interesting insofar that the nuances of the English language are multifarious and abstruse. As is that last sentence as if to hammer home a point.

What was clear as mud is that language is very personal, it can divide and unite, it can inform and confuse and it can be a barrier to some a gateway for others.

In the social care field there is no set agreement on what to call those whom we work for, our service users, our clients, our residents, our customers or something entirely different. In the Adoption community there is a battle fought around what to label those who place their children for adoption and the adopted, what you call the women who gives birth to the child, the birthmother, the natural mother, the mother, the first mother.

I have seen these debates descend into bile throwing hurt fests online all because of words.

There is a need to use the simplest of language so that the greatest number of people find documents accessible. That been a given, how do we meld the language we use in daily discourse with the language we write for policy or is there a need to do that at all.

In social care when we say for example that our practice is based on an individuals need, that to us is simple enough, the problem lies in what sort of meaning can be construed from this if it is in a public document.

We must always be open to the challenge of wordiness, language , reportage, labelling, policy documents and human interactions as these are all very differing dialogues. We need to be sensitive to all these language pathways and to have the ability to challenge ourselves to allow understanding from all facets of society.

What is your meaning in what you are saying? If you’re being asked that question then maybe you have already failed…..

Adrian McKenna is a frontline Social Care Professional; he has worked and Managed for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services, homeless services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. He is a Committee Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, A Member of the Social Care workers Registration Board at CORU, A Member of Social Justice Ireland and was on the National Committee of the YES Campaign for Children. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.

“Seeing the Beauty”


The start of this year was a very difficult time for me, I ended up allowing myself to become very stressed. I didn’t recognise it then and I have spent months thinking about it and how to learn something from that time.

What is clear to me now is that when you are under stress it is difficult to see the beauty.

That in itself is not earth shattering, nor is it the statement of the century, but for those of us who work in Social Care it is really worth reflecting on.

In recent times I have consciously taken the time to try and look for the beauty, this can be challenging especially when we are surrounded with a culture of negativity. When you are working with individuals who are marginalised by society it is easy to see those individuals as a series of diagnosis, ailments, addictions and traits. It is much harder to see the individual as just that an individual, one who may be living with a diagnosis, ailment, addiction or trait but an individual nonetheless.

When you stop to listen to what we say and how we say it, when you stop and challenge yourself to stand firm in defence of, when you stop another individuals diatribe and infuse the conversation with challenge, then and only then can we start to see the beauty again.

Separating the human from the behaviour is a start, engaging  with their story and allowing time for relationships to build is what can make my working world so satisfying.

Those that we work for, our clients, residents, and those that we work with, our colleagues deserve at the least the chance to relate. For it is in the relationship that the real change takes place.

My challenge is to never allow stress subsume my want, need and desire to relate for it is in the relationship that I find joy.

MY Birth Cert is Not Mine To Have


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I have been reading this morning in the newspapers about the new proposed adoption legislation, it said “at present many adoptees are unable to access birth certs listing their original parents’ names due to legal obstacles, including a constitutional right to privacy on the part of birth parents.To help resolve this, adopted people would be required to sign a statutory declaration obliging them to respect the wishes of birth parents in cases where they do not wish to be contacted”. The constitutional right to privacy is conferred upon all citizens as it is and in no other circumstance is any citizen required to sign a statutory declaration to uphold that privacy. In fact there are numerous piece of legislation currently used to protect one from unwanted contact by others. Mary Hanafin tried something similar many years go and failed to get the backing of the adoption community. I for one will not be prepared to criminalise myself by signing any declartion to access my Birth Cert something that no other citizen of this country has to endure. I implore you all during the debate on this issue to help make sure that there is unfettered access to original birth certs and full written histories. Please contact your TDs, Senators, MEPs and Councillors.

Marriage or Matrimony, Religion or Civil


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I assume that people who are shouting down the NO side are frustrated and annoyed at the fact that their fellow citizens would cast a vote that effectively continues the marginalisation of our Brothers, Sisters. Aunts, Uncles, Mother and Fathers. What is being lost in this debate is the difference between civil marriage and holy matrimony. At no stage will the church have to perform holy matrimony for any same sex couple and that is their right. Therefore that piece of the argument is null and void. Civil marriage requires a constitutional change to give it absolute protection, if there were merely a change in law then that change could be reversed just as easily. The third point is the link between the family and how that fits with same sex couples, there is no simple answer here and this is where there is a great divide. The NO side who are predominantly faith based although not exclusively believe that the FAMILY is Father, Mother and Children, in effect that is a norm from which we are used to. Legally this interpretation is incorrect as in the constitution a cohabiting heterosexual couple with no children can be defined as a family, Article 41.3: “The State pledges to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.” nowhere though is Marriage defined, we could accept that it was clearly understood as opposite-sex when drafted in 1937 but original intent is not decisive.The failings of this current piece of constitution also marginalises other family forms, such as….a cohabiting heterosexual couple looking after the children of either or both parents,a cohabiting heterosexual couple either of whom is already married ,a cohabiting heterosexual couple either of whom is already married, whose children (all or some of them) are being looked after elsewhere ,unmarried or lone parents and their children and homosexual and lesbian couples. So back to the referendum the proposed amendment to Article 41 is the insertion of the line: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”, again this is a civil legal amendment and imposes no change on religious matrimony. All other facts of the debate in relation to children, surrogacy etc etc etc are just being used to confuse the issue.Surrogacy and other methods of assisted reproduction are being dealt with in other pieces of legislation and if battles need to be fought there then that is where people should direct their fight. I for one will vote YES to this referendum and look forward to attending the CIVIL marriage of some of my friends in the future gay or straight. Adrian McKenna is a frontline Social Care Professional; he has worked and Managed for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services, homeless services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. He is a Committee Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, A Member of Social Justice Ireland and was on the National Committee of the YES Campaign for Children. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.