By Barry Lord
The United Nations is awarding cities child-friendly status – but according to one mother bringing her son up in Dublin – the Irish capital is just not doing enough to welcome children.
Natasha White, 34, is a Dubliner who cannot seem to pull herself or her 10-year-old son, Jude, away from the bright lights, big city feel of our Irish capital.
But she is irritated by the fact the city just doesn’t offer enough activities for children.
She feels, like many cities across the world, Dublin is still a place developed with adults in mind, day and night.
I wouldn’t be taking Jude to a restaurant on a Friday evening, said Natasha. Places are full of people out to unwind, usually with plenty of drink on the table. It’s not an environment for a young kid. If I was in a position to push for more family friendly restaurants, I would.
The United Nations is currently awarding child-friendly city status to places around the world where young people are involved in how their towns and cities are run.
“Politicians at the moment don’t always get what people want. If you take Norway as an example, in Oslo, they pay a high level of tax, but that’s reflected in the infrastructure.
We’ve lost much of the character of the city. People aren’t afforded the space to do many things that other countries take for granted; picnicking, kicking a football with kids. You’re not allowed to do that in Stephen’s Green now.
There are a lack of play and leisure areas developed in most cities, including Dublin.
But there is a growing feeling children should be involved more in cities – the place their working parents spend most of their hours each day.
Plans to improve cities like Bristol include controlling traffic, making transport affordable, getting all children and young people recognised as equal citizens with access to services and every part of the city regardless of where they live.
Natasha said: “I’m in favour of helping my son’s generation enjoy as many of the freedoms as I’ve known. As parents we set the example and they have to get as much enjoyment out of life as you can give them.”
The city centre is Natasha and Jude’s concrete playground – and when school is done for the day, there is nothing the youngster revels in more than taking in the cultural delights on offer.
“One day we walked down Parnell street and Jude suddenly turned to me and said ‘Mam, there were loads of people shot around here, isn’t that right?’
“I was taken aback. Little did I know his granddad had filled him in on the surrender on Moore Street during the rebellion of 1916. It was an amazing thing to hear from a then four-year-old.”
Even young Jude’s name is the rooted in Irish heritage, such is his mother’s love of their shared culture.
“I named him Jude Fáelán. It’s derived from Cu Chulainn, an Irish mythological hero,” she said.
“Cu Chulainn means ‘Young Wolf’ – apparently he kept watch outside the King of Connacht’s castle, and slayed the wolves that prowled the grounds at night.
“I wanted to call him Setanta,” Natasha said laughing at this possibility.
Natasha hopes the city will soon become a place she is free to take her son, day or night, before he has grown up.
If you are a parent who feels the same way, has experienced any negative or positive matters taking your child out at night, or maybe you have the answer on how to make Dublin more child friendly? If so get in touch: Tweet @IrelandToday_ join us on Facebook or email: firstname.lastname@example.org