Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: Government stands accused of breaching our constitutional rights

Mattie Fox


Mattie Fox

Mattie column

“If it takes a court to enforce the rights of people, then maybe it’s time to assert that right.”

It’s become so utterly hopeless to keep talking about the decisions made by government departments, that I started to read the constitution.

Between Simon Harris, God help us, sounding like a broken record, and other members repeating once again the very same mantra - including several from Fianna Fáil - I felt it necessary to consult the only document that matters.

The Constitution, finally drafted in 1937, is the document that imbues the detailed aspirations of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation. The Proclamation stands to this day as a masterpiece of drafting.

It was my expectation, that, since so many people died for its survival, they must have felt that it was worth giving lives for.

Several of the Proclamation signatories, were shot dead by the British, in 1916. We should remember that, whilst being able to park any emotion whilst remembering.

This is not some reactionary agitation, it is a fact.

Within the considerable length, and detail of the Constitution, with many amendments, it is not an easy task to read.

The message according to the Constitution is irrefutable, and without equivocation.

I began to think about the Citizens of Ireland, and their specific entitlements, as defined and ratified by the constitution.

Nothing can be changed in the constitution, without a referendum. To my knowledge, no referendum was ever held to give government, or the health service, the right, to deprive people of reasonable care.

In fact, the Constitution is very clear on this.

Maybe, instead of complaining, and talking about the chaos of hospitalisation, some of us, should assemble a legal team, and initiate a case against the government, and the European Parliament.

I took the trouble to consult a highly respected legal mind before writing any of this, as I wanted to get the expert view as well, since I’m no lawyer.

Here is the relevant part of the Constitution:

Article 40 Personal Rights
• All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law. This shall not be held to mean that the State shall not in its enactments have due regard to differences of capacity, physical and moral, and of social function

• The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, person, good name, and property rights of every citizen.

The principles of social policy set forth in this Article are intended for the general guidance of the Oireachtas. The application of those principles in the making of laws shall be the care of the Oireachtas exclusively, and shall not be cognisable by any Court under any of the provisions of this Constitution.

• The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the whole people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice and charity shall inform all the institutions of the national life.

• The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing: That the citizens (all of whom, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood) may through their occupations find the means of making reasonable provision for their domestic needs.

• The State pledges itself to safeguard with especial care the economic interests of the weaker sections of the community, and, where necessary, to contribute to the support of the infirm, the widow, the orphan, and the aged.

• The State shall endeavour to ensure that the strength and health of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children shall not be abused and that citizens shall not be forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their sex, age or strength.

It would appear to me, and my legal friend, that the Government are in breach of several undertakings indicated by the Constitution.

Although it has been amended several times, none of the most important aspects of the rights of citizens have been removed or altered. Read the above carefully.

Meanwhile the homeless continue to suffer, and the people of this state, in their thousands, are parked on hospital trolleys.

With over 6,000 less beds than were in existence when the population was far less, and about 5,000 nurses less, nobody should be surprised that there are endless waiting lists.

Mathematics is sometimes simple, and the figures don’t lie.

Something like 20,000 additional beds are necessary.

And 10,000 doctors & nurses.

Add to this the fact that the population is growing older every year, and what do you have? The chaos of third world society.

Caused with the knowing silence of the government.

It’s time to pay the fiddler.

If it takes a court to enforce the rights of people, then maybe it’s time to assert that right.