Thursday 18 July 2019

The homeless need care all the time, not just when a storm hits

Homeless people should not be denied basic rights. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
Homeless people should not be denied basic rights. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

There has been a lot of talk recently about "the homeless" or "the rough sleepers", and at first I thought this was good sign. We are becoming more aware, I thought. But using labels and numbers and statistics over and over again has done nothing but normalise the situation.

There has been far too much talk and not enough action by the Government and it has been left to volunteer groups to provide support and to plaster up the wounds while we wait for our Government to produce a plan.

I am saddened and maddened this morning to wake up to the news of another death of a rough sleeper in our city. Whilst we need labels to describe and to classify the group that we are talking about, let's not forget that behind these labels and numbers are real people, people with names, people just like you or me.

The more I am out on the street as an outreach volunteer and the more connections I make, the sadder and the madder I get.

People often use the word "they"... "sure the homeless, they want..." or "they don't want...".

Who is the 'they' that they are talking about? There but for the grace of God, go you or I, our children, grandchildren or our friends.

We feel the same, we hurt the same, we all get hungry, we all get cold. We are all part of the same society... it's just that due to a variety and complexity of circumstances, some people find themselves not on a level playing field and homeless.

Surely this does not mean that they should be denied the basic things that you and I take for granted - making a cup of tea, having a warm bed, having a space to call their own.

Those of us who volunteer in soup runs are not changing the world, but I would like to think that the cup of tea, coffee, soup or the chat or smile that you might get to have with someone before they bed down for the night on the street might just make a small difference to how they feel.

I am a volunteer with ICHH, Inner City Helping Homeless, and there are other groups doing the same thing.

It's great that people mobilised and came together to help out on a stormy night, but this happens every night of the week.

There are policymakers somewhere working off statistics and numbers, but they are not seeing the human person or hearing the human voice.

We, the privileged, take in our cats and dogs and bunnies at night to keep them warm and safe, but what about the homeless human person who sleeps in his cardboard box or sleeping bag?

V. English

Address with editor

Mass needs to be a worthy event

Michael Kelly makes practical suggestions for easing the burden on priests in cities at weekends ('It makes practical sense to close down many churches', Irish Independent, October 13). Reducing the number of Masses and rotating between parishes is a feasible option in every diocese now.

At the throw-in of a GAA league final involving Derry in Croke Park decades ago, an elderly spectator inquired of me as to when the soccer match was starting. Not knowing Dublin, he had followed the Derry supporters with their red and white banners to Croke Park, whereas he intended going to see Sligo Rovers (also red and white) in a cup final in Dalymount. He left immediately. There has to be a significant reason for attending an event.

While obviating the sense of emptiness and positive in themselves, attractive music, colours and full congregations do not generate continued attendance at Mass.

The Mass needs to be seen as an event of significance in its own right. Vatican II described it as the "source and summit" of Catholic faith. Church councils, exhortations, etc, have directed continuously that the laity be instructed in the Mass. This has not happened. But the current need for it is urgent, and practicable within the four walls of a church on Sundays. No need for committees!

Not alone has there been an absence of instruction on the Mass - the Catholic ordained priesthood has been dumbed down by priests themselves and by the laity over several decades. The laity needs instruction on its true nature because its dilution has robbed the ordained priesthood of much of its perceived meaning and consequently has contributed to the dwindling of vocations. Again no need for committees!

Neil Bray

Cappamore, Co Limerick

Republicans turn on each other

How confused is the political world when ex-US president George W Bush speaks up against the present leadership in Washington, although no names are mentioned.

To condemn bigotry, white supremacy and fake news should be the cry of all politicians past and present, although it seems these concerns are not being addressed by the present leadership.

When one of the Republicans' senior figures condemns the present Republicans, I am not sure whether to be pleased that it has started or saddened that it has taken so long.

Maybe that 'light on the hill' is being relit and the fire might burn strongly enough to make changes.

Dennis Fitzgerald

Melbourne, Australia

Tired of paying for bloated State

At the foundation of our State, middle-class widows of the 1916 rebellion were given substantially bigger pensions than working-class widows.

Almost a century later, and our State bureaucrats continue to happily deduct money from the pensions of women.

Our cowardly politicians duck behind the law and say there is nothing they can do. How about changing the laws, lads? That is your job, is it not?

We also learn that a decade after the disastrous crash and bank bailout, our Financial Regulator remains toothless and largely useless. But very well paid.

As a citizen and taxpayer, I am sick of paying for a bloated and largely useless State bureaucracy.

I am also sick of paying the outrageous salaries and pensions of our cowardly politicians who never seem to have the courage to tackle vested interests, or stand up for the ordinary citizen and taxpayer in this land.

Republic of opportunity? Actions speak far louder than sound bites.

Gerry Kelly

Rathgar, Dublin 6

The veritas of the vino claims

Gerry Adams was jeered after claiming a bottle of wine costs €30, with shouts from other TDs of "Where does the deputy buy his wine?"

According to the Houses of the Oireachtas website, bottles of wine cost €20 to €50 in the Members' Restaurant. I found the TDs' heckling disingenuous and wasteful of parliamentary time.

Eve Parnell


Irish Independent

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