Saturday 1 October 2016

Homeless crisis is a major emergency - let's treat it as such

Published 21/08/2015 | 04:17

Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government at the publication of a national strategy to reduce lead in drinking water. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 9/6/2015
Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government at the publication of a national strategy to reduce lead in drinking water. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 9/6/2015

In recent years, the Government sent a booklet to every household in the country entitled 'Preparing for Major Emergencies'.

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The Government defines a major emergency as follows: "A major emergency is an event which, usually with little or no warning, causes or threatens injury or death, or serious disruption of essential services … beyond the normal capabilities of the principal emergency services in the area in which the event occurs.

"It requires the use of additional procedures and the use of additional resources to ensure an efficient and effective response".

The current homeless crisis fits precisely this definition of a major emergency. With vulnerable children already sleeping rough in our streets and parks, it is predicted that up to 1000 Irish families will become homeless over the next few months.

The homeless services are overwhelmed by this crisis, to the extent that it has become a major emergency.

This situation has not occurred 'with little or no warning' and has been predicted for over six months now.

The lack of a coherent Government response from Environment Minister Alan Kelly and his colleagues at Cabinet has turned a crisis into a major emergency.

Under the Government's own guidelines, the current homeless emergency requires the Environment Minister to immediately convene the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) in Dublin to deal decisively with the crisis with all of the major stakeholders involved. Other responsible ministers in this crisis include Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Defence Minister Simon Coveney.

We elect our Government to act in the interests of the State and its citizens.

The current Cabinet - by its own guidelines - is failing in its duty of care to our most vulnerable citizens. Shame on it.

Dr Tom Clonan, Captain (Retired), Booterstown, Co Dublin

Making a point

Cyril Farrell's comment that goals win matches (Irish Independent, August 17) has its merits, of course - however, all that sliotars is not goaled.

Tom Gilsenan, Beaumont, Dublin 9

Hurling was the winner

Last sunday's hurling semi-final was one of the best semi-finals seen for a very long time - two great sides displayed talents of the highest quality along with bravery and sportsmanship.

Although one side had to lose, hurling won out in the end.

I was privileged many years ago to visit the home of the great Des 'Snitchy' Ferguson.

Anyone who loves our sport will recall that Snitchy was as good a hurler as he was a footballer.

I asked his lady wife, Maura, if I could look at some of his medals. She pointed to a dresser drawer and said "they're in there somewhere"! Sure enough, I found them.

They were not all polished up, but Maura explained that Des never paid too much attention to medals - it was the taking part that kept him going.

A word of advice to the scribes who cover our sport - remember, it's an amateur game played by those who love their jersey. It's not all about who wins that matters, it's the performance they give us that reminds us through the long winter of what we can look forward to come the spring.

Thanks for the memories, Snitchy.

Fred Molloy, Glenville, Dublin 15

Dangerous tackles

I was very concerned with regard to the 'spear tackle' that Seamus O'Callinan got in the Croke Park on Sunday. Similar tackles have been completely outlawed in rugby, and rightly so.

The experts want a 'manly game' but hurling needs to be safe and there has been far too many dangerous tackles let go.

This tackle could have left Mr O'Callinan with a permanent disability. I have rewatched at this tackle several times and I feel that it needs to be cited.

A very dangerous incident also happened to Seamus O'Callinan against the Limerick goalie and again it was let go and a free was given out and again Croke Park did not question this.

It is disgraceful that we are not protecting our players, as they do in rugby.

Spear tackles cannot be allowed and if the referee on the day does not punish it, then, as in rugby, the player must be disciplined later.

It is in all our interests that our players are protected, and health and safety must be a priority.

Dr Mary Ryan, Consultant Physician, Barringtons Hospital Limerick and Aut Even Hospital Kilkenny

Respect apprenticeships

David McWilliams (Irish Independent, August 19) referred to Ireland's "giddy excitement of the points race and the CAO mania".

It is true, each year we witness increasing fervour (and sometimes strife) over the points race to achieve desired courses at university.

Mention is rarely made of apprenticeships, or of those who may wish to pursue one. Simply put, they are ignored.

In Germany, they have many more recognised apprenticeships than we do, but also, they hold them in much higher esteem than we do ours.

They are an integral part of the foundations that support Germany's robust economy.

Snobbery is part of our problem.

If we in Ireland are to treat apprenticeships with the respect they deserve, then the Government, parents, teachers and careers guidance officers will need to overcome their narrow focus on university places. Let me congratulate all the Irish apprentices who took part in the World Skills games in Brazil and well done to those who won awards, including two golds.

John Bellew, Dunleer, Co Louth

A model player?

I see the words "model" and "Sean O'Brien" in the same sentence, below the great man's photograph on page 57 of your sports section (Irish Independent, August 19).

Surely this is nothing short of blasphemy?

Niall Ginty, Killester, Dublin

Editorials are right on

With the relocation of your editorial comment to a right-hand page, will your view on matters henceforth be more right of centre?

Colm Moorehead, Loughrea, Co Galway

Irish Independent

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