Saturday 3 December 2016

Doctor's orders: Homeless 1 Refugees 0

The narrative of the hierarchy of the deserving is just a stalling tactic - all those in need will have to be catered for, like it or not

Ciara Kelly

Published 05/10/2015 | 02:30

No entry: Refugees sit on a bridge after Austrian police stopped them at the border between Austria and Germany.
No entry: Refugees sit on a bridge after Austrian police stopped them at the border between Austria and Germany.

There's been a lot of column inches generated of late about homelessness and the refugee crisis. And for some reason, in some people's minds, there appears to be a debate about whether we should do anything to help Syrian refugees, fleeing their war-torn country, until we've sorted out the Irish families in crisis with nowhere to live here at home. In an almost Hunger Games-like scenario, they're trying to pit the homeless and refugees against one another, in a competition for our hearts and minds and money.

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The fact that most of the people using this macabre competition narrative - 'Do something for our own before we start helping these immigrants' - are people who have no interest in helping either the homeless or the refugees is not lost on all of us. It is a blatant attempt at diverting and deflecting money and services away from refugees, but without any genuine desire to actually help the homeless.

That homelessness is a huge problem here is no overstatement. You can't walk around our cities or our small towns without seeing lost souls in sleeping bags huddled in doorways, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. Many thousands more are living not rough on our streets but in hostels, hotels, B&Bs and friends' floors or other makeshift accommodation.

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