Skip to content
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal

Column: Sinéad O'Connor - Ireland's children live in a caste system

The singer has been horrified by a report on the state of a building which houses counselling services for teenagers – and argues that it is indicative of how some children are being ignored by the State.

Do all of Ireland's children have equal access to education and life opportunities? Sinéad O'Connor argues that they don't.
Do all of Ireland's children have equal access to education and life opportunities? Sinéad O'Connor argues that they don't.
Image: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

THERE IS A fridge in the toilet at one of the Irish health and safety executive’s teen counselling services buildings on the northside of the river Liffey in Dublin.

Yes, I said there is a fridge in the toilet.

Welcome again to Ireland.

Indeed one might write a book about the so-called ‘Free State’s health executive and name it  There’s A Fridge In The Toilet.

A health and safety report which I have studied, commissioned by the HSE around this time last year, stated in block capital letters “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD A FRIDGE BE PLACED IN A TOILET”. It’s is startling to see this having to be spelled out to them.

The toilet pipes run above the sink in the kitchen.

Yes, I said the toilet pipes run above the sink in the kitchen.

The building reeks of sewage.

The principal counselling room has no actual ceiling. It has instead a perplex  tarpaulin type sheet. Above it is the sky.

The heating does not work for months at a time and through this past winter was never working. It is currently not working. Naturally, workers there are constantly reporting this to the HSE.

The phones sometimes are not working for a week at a time. This despite the fact that the phones not working is reported to the HSE immediately by those in the building whose job it is to receive calls from children who need help.

This is just one of several child counselling service building in Dublin’s northside. One must assume there are others in equal disrepair. I would love to see reports on all of them and compare those with reports on the south side buildings used for the same purposes.

The building I am referring to was declared 25 on a scale of 1 to 30 a fire hazard almost a year ago.

There are  no fire escapes. No fire extinguishers. No obvious exit signs.

A fire broke out in the building before last Christmas, prompting several firetrucks to arrive since the building is part of a terrace in Mountjoy Square and the whole row  could potentially have blown.

Nothing has actually been done to amend the situation, neither since the health and safety report was published last year, nor since the fire which took place shortly before last Christmas.

The very same health and safety report commissioned by HSE a year ago which declared the building a major fire hazard also declared the building categorically unsafe and unfit for the purposes it is being used for.

A token visit was made by someone employed by the HSE to go to the building after this fire and make a report about the fire and what the prognosis was concerning the safety of the building.

This despite  them having a report right under their noses from almost a year ago.

This person told a worker in the building that he  would have to close down the Mater hospital if he were to be fully honest when making reports on buildings used by the Health Services on  the north side of Dublin.

As God is my witness I tell you the truth, the full truth, and nothing but the truth.

I would be terribly interested in seeing health and safety reports on all buildings in Ireland used by the HSE after hearing of this remark.

If another fire breaks out there the HSE will have lawsuits on their hands brought by the relatives of those who work there as well as of anyone else who may be hurt either in the building or in the Terrace.

Last year’s condemnations of the building upon which the HSE have not yet acted will be their downfall.

Sending a man to make a report is not actually acting on anything.

The staff working in the building are afraid to cause trouble for fear of losing their jobs and therefore say not much. But this in my opinion is not helping the children they are being paid to help.

“I understand people don’t want to lose their jobs. But there is an ‘every man for himself’ policy… that does not put children first.”

I understand people don’t want to lose their jobs. But there is an ‘every man for himself’ policy in the HSE because dissenters are pushed out. This policy does not put children first. And does not allow the thought that perhaps if HSE workers stood together en masse and demanded better they couldn’t all be fired.

Reference Ghandi method of non violent mass revolt.

Every city has their different forms of racism, which are actually in Ireland carried out towards our fellow Irish people in my observance, more than towards people from other countries.

On TV or radio in Ireland you never ( apart from Joe Duffy) hear any presenter with a northside Dublin accent of any description.

Singers with north side  Dublin accents are suppressed.

If this HSE building was on the southside of Dublin, say… Dublin 4, being used for the purposes of helping traumatised teenagers and children, there would be rightly, a scandal and outrage.

There  is a massive pink elephant in the corner of Dublin society. Its name is ‘no one seems to give a damn about northside kids’.

Indeed the same is true for all Irish children who do not come from middle and upper classes, or who live on the wrong sides of Ireland’s many convoluted rivers and tracks.

Let’s just deal with Dublin for today. It has to start being discussed openly and honestly that there are massive reparations to be made, not only to the buildings where northside children are treated for medical or psychological problems brought about by Dublin society’s attitudes towards them for which they, the  children are not to blame – but also extensive repairs must be carried out upon their tragic lack of self esteem or hope.

They deserve better all round in life than this  first republic of Ireland has given them, from any quarter.

When the second republic comes, which it will since the first is an utter failure (I often wonder , if that may be because it was born from blood and violence),  all Irish children will be treated with equal and due dignity, care , esteem, safety and respect.

“We have not recognised that ALL Irish children are our only hope of survival as a nation.”

Amongst the rights of children to be upheld in the constitution there should be written that ALL Irish children are entitled to great self esteem and never under any circumstances to have that esteem placed under attack or placed at the bottom of the pile of what is important to Irish society.

We  have  not recognised that ALL Irish children are our only hope of survival as a nation. These children are the future of Ireland. We ought be leaping in front of bullets for every one of them.

Not for bankers and wankers.

Every Irish child is valid, valuable, precious and priceless. A  one in four million chance.

Every God given child in this country has great gifts to offer. This country will not survive if we do not place above anything else the care and self-esteem and self-respect of all children no matter what their financial or geographical situation.

There should be no caste system. What there is actually in Dublin is a caste system and nothing short of a caste system.

No one will want to hear that but it is true.

College is becoming elitist  In Ireland since most cannot afford it. We’re “graduating thieves and murderers to suck the blood of the sufferers,” as Bob Marley said.

We are snobs. It is our very worst quality. And it is killing our children.

It is my opinion that going forward in the second republic we are going to have to employ a compassionate type of communism.

There is enough money in this country for every person to have the same and no child to go hungry.

If we were truly a Christian country this is what we would do… Pool  all resources and divide them equally amongst everyone and make no one’s bills larger than anyone else’s.

We never hear our politicians say the word love.

We never hear our spiritual leaders, who were the one’s controlling our state for so long suggest that we love each other.

Indeed they do not love us, or Christ enough to tell the truth and be accountable for their manifest and TAUGHT lack of regard for children. Nor their grossly manifest lack of regard for Christ, God or the actual presence Holy Spirit, in which they blasphemously  still stand and tell lies as to what they did to Irish children.

Yet they constantly go on about who doesn’t deserve God’s love. And dictate to God whom it may love and not love. The Irish Catholic theocracy, which only died fifteen years ago, as well as the Irish State, was built upon the disrespect of women and children. The ghosts of the theocracy stalk us still.

Our economic problems are in fact spiritual problems. They were caused by people who did not care about other people including children.

Had the theocracy truly been Christian this could absolutely never have taken place.

Politics in my opinion is not the solution to our problems, but the cause of them.  As has been the Catholic and very unchristian theocracy, the mentality of which still runs Ireland  and will until all over 35 are dead.

We in the 21st-century Ireland must create a new focus on spirituality, the basis of all theologies being very simple, that we should love and consider each other as brothers and sisters.

“The only other solution for Ireland is that we all get together and decide we’re going to love each other and take care of each other”

We must understand that the God Catholicism has offered to us is fake. If we are appealing to it we may as well be talking to the wall. Or pissing in the wind.

Apart from the employment of compassionate communism, the only other solution for Ireland is that we all get together and decide we’re going to love each other and take care of each other and come to understand that there is a holy spirit which responds to the human voice.

All of Christ’s teachings show we do not need religion in order to communicate with God or Christ or the holy spirit. All you need is faith and your voice: “Where two or more are gathered in my name I will come to them.”

The holy spirit,  stupidly in my opinion,  gave us free will. This means it cannot intervene in our best interests unless we ask it to. We have to ask in the right place, which is our hearts. And even in our streets.  It is pointless appealing to stone and lumps of wood carved into statues.

We must get together and ask the Holy Spirit not for our own personal or selfish desires to be met,  but for the Holy Spirit’s best intention for Ireland to be carried out and that we may be given the ability and the desire to love each other equally,  to pool our personal  resources and employ compassionate communism in order to help every single person in this country.

I believe very much in the power of the Holy Spirit to respond quickly to the united voices of the Irish people should we care enough about each other and the children which are our future to get together and ask with love that our country receive the help it will not get from politics or religion.

Where have gone those like Larkin, Pierce, Synge, Yeats, all the organisations and movements? The people power that existed in those who created the first republic?

Why are we not, like them, insisting on the best? Why have we not been inspired by them?

“Between us all there is money and food enough in the country for no child to be starving.”

A quarter of Irish children are today living in poverty. A child collapsed at school last week from malnutrition. The bishop in the town where this happened in says there are food shortages in the town. Yet between us all there is money and food enough in the country for no child to be starving.

Thousands of under-privileged children in this country aged 12 to 18 are running around taking 30 and 40 valiums a day. Taking cocaine, weed, alcohol. To cope with massive pain they are in. They don’t do it out of boldness. They do it because their lives are treated as unimportant by their own country. They feel like they are not nor never will be, a priority in their own country.

Scores of teenagers and young adults are killing themselves in ways other than metaphoric. How are we sleeping in our beds and this is going on? If it was your home and your child, you would declare a family state of emergency.

Stupid money is being spent in Ireland on stupid things while children are collapsing on drugs, or by suicide, or starvation.

Only one example I will give you…

Tv3 has been planning a reality show about therapy. Quite grotesque. We watch people suffer, just as people in the old days used to go to asylums to view those with mental illnesses for amusement. Each therapist on the panel has been offered €2,000 per show. This I know because a relative who is a therapist was asked to take part. Is that show necessary and that money being put to best use?

This is one example. Thousands and indeed millions of euro are wasted in this country every day on pointless crap that feeds no child.

Review needed. Second republic needed. Spiritual review needed. Christianity  needed. Compassionate communism  urgently needed. As is communal prayer, away from the church and directly to the Holy Spirit in the streets.

  • The HSE has told that the services they provide in the building to which O’Connor refers in this piece will be relocating this year to a different premises on the North Circular Road.
  • This opinion piece has been republished on at the request of Sinéad O’Connor. It first appeared on her blog here.


    Back to top