Stars shows their support as charities hit by backlash
Published 16/12/2013 | 23:31
Music stars Paddy Cole, Mary Coughlan and two green Santas did their best to help drum up support for the Samaritans on Dublin's Grafton Street.
The pair belted out old favourites with a group of Samaritan volunteers, rising above the din of the hordes of other musicians along the crowded shopping area.
But the impact of the recent CRC charity controversy was much in evidence.
Shoppers showed a marked reluctance to make contributions and one collector remarked how in the past the donations tended to be made in notes but now it was all coins.
However, chairman of the Dublin Samaritans branch Malachy Quinn stressed that the carol singing was "not all about the money".
"It's important to be here to make people aware of the Samaritans and let them know our services are available 24 hours a day, all year round."
He was at pains to point out, too, that the Dublin branch, which deals with 10,000 calls a year, has no CEO.
"We just have two staff working in the office to co-ordinate everything and the rest of the work is all done by volunteers. We just need enough money to run the service," he said.
Christmas is a particularly busy time for their helpline "both in the run-up to Christmas and right until after the New Year. A lot of people find this time very difficult," Mr Quinn added.
Mary Coughlan was delighted to help out.
"I love the Samaritans. My mother did work on the phones with them," she said.
Paddy Cole was equally happy to be there.
"I'd always support them. They mean everything to so many people, especially now around Christmas."
In keeping with the oldest tradition, the Samaritan Santa is green, which is also the colour of their logo, and the green Santas proved a special novelty for young children, who queued patiently to put money in their buckets.