Sunday 18 February 2018

THE PAUL WILLIAMS PODCAST: 'It's as bad as 1916' - Brother Kevin highlights Dublin's poverty levels

Capuchins hope for Papal visit in Dublin

Br Kevin Crowley, founder of the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin. Picture: Damien Eagers
Br Kevin Crowley, founder of the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin. Picture: Damien Eagers
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

BROTHER Kevin Crowley has spoken about how he hopes Pope Francis will visit the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin where the lost generation of the recession still come to be fed — nearly a decade after the crash.

In a wide-ranging interview for the Paul Williams Podcast, Brother Kevin said of the Pope: “He is an amazing man, I saw him at 7am, he came out with no pomp, he made his thanksgiving in the midst of us.

“There was no such thing as being pushed on, you could spend a day with him. Please God I hope he comes to Ireland. I hope he visits the Capuchin Centre.”

Brother Kevin also said that poverty in the country is the worst it’s ever been in the last century.

“We have 30 or 40 people every morning coming in for showers. It’s as bad as it was in 1916,” Brother Kevin explains.

“Why are so many people caught in the poverty trap? The Government is not doing enough to help these unfortunate people, when the chap died outside the Dail there was talk of getting more housing, but nothing has been done about it.”

The Capuchin Centre receives €450,000 a year from the Government, according to Brother Kevin, but running costs are now some €3.3m.

The shortfall must come from public donations but Brother Kevin says that depending on the public for donations also results in virtue signalling and ostentatious giving.

“One Christmas a man came with a turkey but there was a camera crew with him and I said the turkey is fine, but we didn’t need the media there and he went away. Then, later that day a woman appeared at the door and gave me an envelope which I opened later and it was a cheque for £1,000. It was like the Lord himself appearing,” he says.

“Another time I owed someone £2,000 for work that had been done and I hadn’t a ha’penny.

‘‘I went down and knelt and prayed to the Blessed Sacrament and I told the Lord that if you want me to feed these poor people and look after them you’d better do something and I’ve never been short since then — thank the  good Lord and the generous people keeping this place in operation.”

Brother Kevin grew up in Cork and worked for the CIE in his youth. He laments the number of young people who are still living abroad for work and have little hope of finding housing should they attempt to return.

He says that the last recession has been the worst that he has ever experienced.

“Even in the Eighties, we didn’t have the fear and anxiety that we see today.”

In 1969, when Brother Kevin entered the order, only 50 homeless people per week availed of help.

Now the numbers of homeless are many multiples of that.

Up to 100 cyclists will cover 300km from Dublin to Belmullet trying to raise €100,000 on the annual Cycle for Brother Kevin which takes place over May 19 and 20. You can help by:

* Signing-up as a cyclist (limited spaces)

* Personally, contributing at www.cycleforbrokevin.ie

* Texting HOPE to 50300. (Texts cost €2 & Cycle For Brother Kevin will receive a minimum of €1.63.

The Paul Williams podcast lifts a lid on the stories and lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and of famous Irish people behind closed doors.

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