The early counts in the referendum on the rights of children in Ireland are showing that 60% are in favour with 40% against.
At first viewing, it certainly appears that all of the public money spent by the Government has had the desired effect. Ireland, then, is obsessed with its 'precious children'.
Or is it?
Well, firstly, only one-third of the eligible electorate actually bothered to vote yesterday. So the 60% in favour amounts to less than 20% of the total available voters. This raises the knotty question "what do the other 80% think or want?”
This is often the problem with democracy. Now that the final tally is in, the picture has remained the same. The motion is carried, as it were, and our 'precious children’ are now guaranteed to be protected or abused, depending on which if these you believe the state is most likely to do. And all it took was less than 20% of the available voters to ensure this.
One of my biggest worries at the introduction of the smoking ban here was the infringement on private property rights.
They have now positioned the state as the central character in the home and assumed the authority to override parental responsibility at a stroke. The new law means that a child can be removed from any home in the state by force and put up for legal adoption. This is a truly frightening development. The official text argues that it is only in extreme cases of child abuse. But, in this nanny state run by failed school teachers, smoking in front of a child has become extreme child abuse. Parents will no longer have the right to police their children's internet usage, and doubtless "childline" will be the first port of call for any teenager denied access to the bullying on the social networks.
Each month now, it seems to me, more of our rights are being taken away from us in the name of progress. We smokers have felt the wrath of the influence the vested interests vented upon us. There appears to be a mind-set evolving in government that they can get away with anything they like.
I'm a free man born into a free Republic. Our forefathers cast off the British to achieve our freedom. In my lifetime, we have cast off the Church to enhance that freedom. But, in a short few recent years, all of that has been mortgaged away to a faceless Europe who appears to want each and every one of us shackled for life in debt. Using that debt as leverage and the apparatus of a fawning state as a blunt instrument, we are being marshalled like some dumb herd into an aimless existence without rights or recourse.
The smoking ban started it and the twin vote on Lisbon showed it even more clearly. Socialising the private debt of the banks cemented it and our inability to respond has confirmed in the government's mind that they have actually got away with it.
But have they?