Thursday 18 January 2018

The State that forgot its duty

ONE of the less-known, but most powerful, speeches in Leinster House occurred in 1966, when James Dillon opposed the decision of a judge to send a homeless man to Mountjoy because the state "of our country does not provide any other alternative". A passionate Dillon noted that far from being "friendless", Ireland's status as a sovereign Republic meant "this homeless man has 144 friends" in the Dail who, because "we represent the Irish people", should be prepared to do something.

It may appear strange that actually possessing a house now appears to be, in some cases, as bad a fate as homelessness. But no one can deny that this is an odd country and many of the ninety-thousand, and rising, citizens existing in a terrible twilight zone of mortgage arrears are enduring an existential crisis that only differs from homelessness in the quality of their pain.

Sadly, it does appear that when it comes to those who reside in high places, they are as short of allies as Mr Dillon's poor homeless "friend". Others such as our banks, developers, those holidaying on pre-retirement FAS sinecures, "spoilt" ESB and public sector workers are always assured of a considerate ear.

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