Saturday 7 December 2019

Letters: Too many broken 'promises' as homeless crisis worsens

Brother Kevin Crowley at the Capuchin day centre. Photo: Tony Gavin
Brother Kevin Crowley at the Capuchin day centre. Photo: Tony Gavin

Having journeyed with people who are homeless or in need since 1969, I am appalled that despite being alerted to the increase in numbers of people accessing services such as the Capuchin Day Centre, the current housing crisis has been allowed to develop and it took until two days before an election before it reached the agenda of the Oireachtas.

We became aware of the new situation regarding homeless families in early 2013 when parents asked for take-away food for their children because they had no access to food or other facilities in the evening.

Every day here in the Capuchin Day Centre we meet with the tragic human casualties of failed government policies that have reached a new height in social neglect by those charged with "cherishing all the children of the state equally" (the very principle that our forefathers gave their lives for).

While the Government's newfound realisation that we have a homeless crisis has resulted in a promise of "urgent action" by the Taoiseach, going by past experiences we have found that these 'promises' soon get swamped under layers of bureaucracy.

Having survived over four decades of the social situations that foster and nurture homelessness with practically no help from the government, perhaps the State could learn something from our Strategic Plan which is based on the principles of St Francis of Assisi: "Start with what is necessary and do what is possible."

We now have a three-tiered homeless population and it is my fear that those most at risk will be plunged to the bottom when it comes to priorities and all three are competing for the same limited resources.

Rough sleepers have been affected by the diversion of funds from emergency accommodation and the cessation of the night bus with its ring-fenced accommodation (following the previous action plan). This means that we have more people at risk of dying on the side of the road than when we started the centre in 1969. How many of these people will even be alive next Christmas?

We must reinstate the night bus and emergency accommodation, even to 2010 levels.

In addition, the new poor have been squeezed out of the private rented market and if the current appalling situation is not addressed we will be paying the health and social consequences for generations. What is to become of these children who are uprooted from their schools, friends and families?

Families in private rented accommodation must get more help. We should reinstate the rent supplement or force landlords to accommodate people adequately.

Recently an intervention by Senator Feargal Quinn led to legislative changes in upward only rent reviews for commercial property. Surely someone in government could take up the gauntlet for a similar piece of legislation on behalf of private rental tenants that would prohibit landlords from exploiting vulnerable people who have no other means of providing a home for their families.



Don't forget this Leinster hero

Brian O'Driscoll and Leo Cullen, of Leinster and Ireland, have each had their large and deserved public send-offs in recent weeks, but another crucial rugby figure who will be departing the stage at the conclusion of this year's RaboDirect Pro12 competition on Saturday week, after six years' service, will be Leinster's revolutionary forwards coach, Jono Gibbes.

A New Zealander, Gibbes, took up the role of forwards coach at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. By the end of that season, Leinster Rugby had won its first Heineken European Cup.

During Mr Gibbes' time as forwards coach, Leinster added a further two Heineken Cups, making Leinster the most successful Irish province in European Cup history and one of the most successful in Europe.

Until the arrival of Jono Gibbes, Leinster's forward pack was considered to be the perennial Achilles' heel of the team.

The top teams in Europe knew that Leinster's famously talented backline could be rendered impotent by the targetting of the team's soft underbelly up front. Mr Gibbes found a way to put an end to this problem which had dogged Leinster for many years by developing a vastly improved technique and hard-edge within Leinster's forward play.

As forwards coach, Mr Gibbes succeeded in fixing the problem beyond recognition to the point where Leinster's greatest asset is not its (still potent) backline, but its forward pack. It was Leinster's revolutionised forward pack which made the province's three Heineken Cups possible, and Jono Gibbes must be thanked for that.

Leinster Rugby showed vision in sourcing Jono Gibbes from New Zealand and taking a chance on him as a young coach. The contribution of Gibbes was a powerful demonstration of the value of sourcing coaches from that land which constitutes the Oxford and Cambridge of rugby coaching, New Zealand.

Mr Gibbes' ability to form a complementary working relationship at Leinster with such superb (but diverse), successive head coaches as Michael Cheika, Joe Schmidt and Matt O'Connor is also a testament to his character and lack of ego. The standard which he has raised Leinster's forward play to will pose a worthy challenge for his successor to maintain.



Solving Kennedy conundrum

A sure way of immortalising the names of Jacqueline Kennedy and Father Leonard would be to sell the letters and give the proceeds to the Peter McVerry trust.



Geopolitical priorities

K Nolan asked whether the European Court of Justice will instigate proceedings against the Americans for activities in Europe that are similar to the offences with which five Chinese military officials have been charged by the US government (Letters, May 21). The difference between both cases is that the US government is part of Western civilisation but the Chinese government poses a threat to Western civilisation.



What atheists believe

In response to A Rogers' letter ('The beliefs of atheists', May 20), atheism is a position on one subject only – the existence of a deity. As for the beliefs listed in the letter as being necessary to atheism, were Mr Rogers to look into it he would find that atheists have many different views on all of these subjects. This atheist, while not having a firm position on the origin of the universe, is more than happy to say 'I don't know', and leave it at that until more evidence comes along.



Shatter has cake and eats it

An interesting report, emerged yesterday, whereby deputy Shatter was being snapped while leaving a city cafe, and allegedly told the snapper to get lost.

Now, I would support anybody taking such a line in defence of their rights to privacy, but in the light of recent goings-on, this was surely a case of the ex-minister wanting his cake immediately after eating it.



Irish Independent

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