Poverty, family dysfunction, and state provision for neglected children
in Precarious childhood in post-independence Ireland
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This chapter presents an examination of social conditions and social policies. It specifically argues that the nationalist vision of frugality and simplicity translated into a lack of initiative on the part of successive Irish governments, and children paid a particularly high price for that lack of initiative. It is noted that the larger the family, the more likely it was that the children of the family would experience poverty, poor living conditions and malnutrition as part of their daily lives. Financial constraints aside, the boards of public assistance often displayed a mean spiritedness that may seem staggering to modern sensibilities. Many poor families were broken up when children were sent to industrial schools for no reason other than that their parents could not support them. The life of the average poor legitimate children does not appear to have been all that much better than the life of the illegitimate child.

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