Calling all Twitter users: if you believe in the internet, regulate yourselves
Breast is best. Chocolate is not
A report by the Food Safety Authority has described how some Irish infants and toddlers are being fed a diet that is “far from ideal”. That may be the understatement of the week.
According to the report, some babies as young as six months old are being given crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks. More than 15 per cent of parents were found to be feeding their infants and toddlers some junk food. The report also highlights how Ireland’s antipathy towards breastfeeding has led to persistently low rates of it.
How have we ended up in a situation where discreetly breastfeeding your six-month-old baby in public is frowned up – but handing them a packet of crisps or a bottle filled with Coke is perfectly fine?
A public display of empathy
Over the past few years, commentators from here and abroad have wondered what it would take to get Irish people on to the streets, what it would take to mobilise our supposedly apathetic young voters.
Now we know. Last Wednesday, as part of the crowd of people who found themselves sitting in almost total silence in the middle of rush hour on Kildare Street, I looked around me and wondered whether this would be remembered as the day apathy died.
The numbers who turned out to protest at the circumstances of the death of Savita Halappanavar last Wednesday in Dublin and Cork were impressive – they were even more impressive on Saturday, and included as many men as women.
There have been larger protests in the past, and louder protests, and protests that had a more immediate impact. But what gave last week’s demonstrations their power was the fact that no one was marching out of an immediate sense of self-interest.
They weren’t protesting over medical cards or student fees or austerity measures – rather, they were out on the streets in the freezing cold because of the quiet anger and the empathy they felt for Savita, and all the other women who have been denied medical terminations in their own country.
They were there because they knew that it could be them one day, or their sister, or their friend, or their daughter, or granddaughter, and because they wanted to say “enough”. It was a mass, public display of empathy – and that is a very powerful message.