Letters to the Editor: Why we must always raise the roof on homelessness

Letters to the Editor: Why we must always raise the roof on homelessness

Homeless tents outside the William Conyngham Plunket statue, just metres away from government offices on Kildare St, Dublin. Picture: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Having worked with homeless people since 1973, I am still haunted by the faces of the many men and women I have met, who were fearful to talk about the abuse they suffered in the institutions of the State, either directly or indirectly.

Some, too, remembered the compassion of  those who helped them. In my time, I have seen the dismantling of institutions to be replaced by Care in the Community; this we can now describe as a mirage. Filling this gap has resulted in voluntary and statutory bodies working together with the required oversight.

Mick Clifford, in his column, 'Silence on failure to protect vulnerable' ( Irish Examiner, Saturday, September 18), about recent events in the area of homelessness, raises a number of issues we should be concerned about.

Over the years, I have come across many people who were afraid to access accommodation, because they remembered abuse suffered within four walls, be it the family home or one of many institutions.

The Alice Leahy Trust's views on homelessness are based on our daily work over nearly 50 years and were presented to the Oireachtas joint committee on housing, local government, and heritage on January 29 and can be viewed on our website, www.aliceleahytrust.ie. Some of our public representatives, and even people working in the field of homelessness, have  difficulty understanding or accepting the complexity of homelessness.

Over the years, expert groups, reports, and conferences costing millions have mushroomed, yet it is left to journalists to ask the important questions and it is so important that they do. For instance, why are people afraid to speak out? Some of us know the answer: No promotion, lack of courage, isolation, fear they  won’t be believed, and group think. Surely it is a small price to pay if an injustice is clear to see; you should remember that that person could be you. It is easy for us to complain about injustices abroad, while  ignoring those closer to home — this should not be the case, whatever one's background.

Some issues seem to be worthy of debate, others not. It has become far too easy to look at statistics, money, bricks and mortar and ignore the fears and vulnerabilities of others,  the humanity behind the statistics. Not everyone has access to power, especially not people who are homeless — the majority of them don’t vote. Public representatives have a responsibility to address the issues raised by Michael Clifford and not remain silent on matters of importance to us all, especially to vulnerable human beings, of whom there are many.

Alice Leahy

Director of Services Alice Leahy Trust

Bride Road

Dublin 8

Hot topic: Heating the outdoors!

In 2004, I was still a regular on the pub-and-nightclub scene. When the smoking ban was implemented, smokers had to rush outside to have a quick cigarette and go straight back into the pub. Then, as pubs adjusted, I noticed these heaters hanging outside.

I've always had an interest in energy conservation, since I lived in the US and Saudi Arabia, and if there were an Olympics for wasting energy, those countries would both win gold. So, when these heaters arrived, I asked myself, 'What the hell is going on now?'

We spend millions on fuel-efficient cars and on insulating buildings, but now we are heating the outdoors.

In 2004, I stopped smoking and, in the last few years, have stopped drinking alcohol  — auld age is the man that brought a halt to my gallop.

In the last few weeks, there have been numerous press conferences about climate change and warnings of all sorts of weather disasters.

In the meantime, Ireland and the UK have decided to move outside to do their drinking and eating and I get it, but in the next few weeks, the weather is going to change and those heaters are going to be switched back on, except, this time, there will be thousands more than there were before the pandemic.

Yes, we have now decided to heat the atmosphere directly. If you think about what we are doing, it’s absurd.

David Hennessy

Dawson Street

Dublin 2

Sláintecare must be results driven

Sláintecare: Am I missing something? While the provision of health insurance for all is a laudable aspiration, it is flawed.

I do not think it can resolve the longstanding crisis of the hospital waiting lists for medical treatment.

All those who are encouraged/forced to participate will rightly demand prompt and equitable treatment for their investment. But how can this happen? The massive backlog will continue. The inadequacies are obvious and the only solution I forsee, for this seemingly interminable problem, is to pump many more billions of euro into the black hole that is the  health system. However, such action must be accompanied by a results-driven, root-and-branch review to justify continuation of this level of expenditure. Have our political masters given this topic enough consideration?

John Burnett



Link Dáil salary rises to social welfare increases

There is a simple solution to the increases in social welfare, pensions, and the minimum wage. Many people feel aggrieved that these increases often seem rather paltry, whereas the Dáil can vote itself higher salaries, expenses, and pensions without any apparent oversight.

Obviously, the authority for all the above-mentioned increases lies vested in the Dáil, the national decision-making body. One solution would be to constitutionally link the two. In other words, Dáil salaries, and so on, would be linked proportionately to the rate of social welfare, pension, and minimum-wage payments. From that point on, any increase in Dáil payments would result in automatic, linked increases to the rates of all of the above payments. Conversely, any cuts in social welfare, pensions, and so on, would result in corresponding, proportional cuts in payments to TDs.

Nick Folley


Co Cork

Underhand tactic to promote abortion

You report that an Oireachtas women's caucus has urged Stephen Donnelly, the health minister, to introduce, as a matter of urgency, legislative proposals for 'safe access zones' to be created outside facilities where abortions are taking place (‘Pressure on Donnelly to legislate for safe access zones at abortion clinics’, Irish Examiner, online, September 13).

The Department of Health has stated that current public-order legislation is adequate to police pro-life protests outside hospitals and GP practices. This was previously confirmed to the Government by the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris.

So what’s it all about? More like another move in a campaign to promote abortion under the guise of protecting women.

Donal Nunan


Co Cork

Arrogance on the floor of the Dáil

I am curious about Daniel McConnell's omission of Fianna Fáil's and Fine Gael’s behaviour during the no-confidence debate, while he critiques Sinn Féin for being exceptionally vitriolic (Daniel McConnell, 'Sinn Féin must decide whether they ever want to govern', Irish Examiner, September 18).

The large majority of the Government’s contributions to the debate gave little or no substantive defence of Simon Coveney, and, instead, focused exclusively on their own vitrolic attacks on Sinn Féin, including accusations of  running an “international centre of excellence” when it comes to cronyism.

The behaviour struck me as arrogance by parties that, despite claims to the contrary, have little substance to point to in major areas like housing, education, and healthcare, even after the best part of a decade in power.

The assertion that it would be doubtful that “the Social Democrats, the Labour Party, Solidarity/People Before Profit all sign up for this mega alliance in order to keep Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil out” is a bit weak.

The Social Democrats refused to prop up a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael government last year, and People Before Profit's stance is crystal clear as well.

You would also have to question why other parties, like Labour, would be inclined towards Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael after the next election, given that it has never worked out well for them (nor for the Green Party), in terms of achieving the objectives of their voters, and  since their policy platform is much closer to Sinn Féin's.

Tomás Creamer


Co Leitrim

Sod u too sudoku

Being an old geezer, I do a simple crossword and the easy sudoku every day or two, to keep my brain going.

I tried the difficult sudoku a couple of times. May I suggest that it be renamed 'sod u too'.

Richard Barton


Co Kildare

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