Ruairi McKiernan: We can't turn a blind eye to those condemned to a life on our streets
The daily sight of people battling homelessness and heroin addiction at the feet of statues of great Irish historical figures carries a sad symbolism. This was not the Ireland that O'Connell and Larkin dreamed of, an Ireland of lost souls abandoned to the mercy of a country that all too often dismisses them as junkies, scumbags and failures.
I'm often at meetings in Sean MacBride House in Temple Bar, a building named after the Nobel Laureate who also envisaged a different Ireland. Colm O'Gorman is based there, the director of Amnesty International Ireland who, as a teenager, was homeless in this same area. Upstairs in the building, looking down on the nearby alleyways, more often than not you can see people injecting themselves with a toxic escape from the abandonment, abuse and suffering that has come their way. Around the corner, life goes on in the two identical-looking Starbucks cafes that sit facing each other while the poet Pat Ingoldsby sits on the street selling his poems to a nation that needs its free-thinking poets now more than ever.
I've lived in Dublin for three years now and I can see how people become cold, hardened and immune to the growing numbers of half-conscious humans on the streets of the capital. 'I'm busy with my own worries. Someone else will sort it out,' goes one train of thought.