Yesterday was Martin Luther King day. Given the political drama at the moment, it’s easy to forget the world outside of Ireland. And it’s easy to forget how to dream. Instead, we’re caught up in a nightmare of cutbacks and economic collapse, of IMF bailouts and EU interest rates.
These next few years could be our greatest chance to dream. That might seem strange, given the mess our country is in, but we are shortly about to elect a small group of people who will become our government. And over the next few years that small group of people have the opportunity to show ambition and leadership: ambition to build an Irish society that is about more than a repaired economy, and leadership to get us there. They have a wonderful opportunity to re-think at what is important for us both as a people and as an economy. They have the opportunity to dream about what we can become, and they will have been given a mandate to make radical changes.
Investing in and building a strong system of early childhood supports must be the start. A better stronger society for children is a better stronger society for all of us. And this is not at the cost of our economic recovery. It’s been shown that investment in early care and education is worth it, many times over. The problem is, it takes 30 years or more for the state to get the full return on that investment. But surely, our economic collapse shows that this time around we don’t need castles-in-the sky - we need to invest in things that are real? Real children, with real lives. What we need are politicians who can see beyond the short-term, to dream of what we can become and then have the leadership to make big changes.