Charity points to our society’s deep failure

Christmas is a festival of consumption rather than a celebration of the universal values of faith, hope, and charity. Christmas represents the kind of rampant, out-of-control commercialism that makes Ebenezer Scrooge’s 1843 bah-humbug dismissal seem appropriate if a tad curmudgeonly.

What is entirely inappropriate though, especially in one of the richest countries in the world, is that lifeline charity the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul has warned that 2,500 families in Cork will depend on food parcels this Christmas.

This figure and our shameful housing crisis are deep indictments of this society and how we conduct our affairs.

It would be naive to imagine that poverty can ever be eradicated but it seems, or at least it should, an outrage that so many families need this kind of basic support as we begin preparations to mark the centenary of our independence.

There are myriad reasons families struggle but some are institutionalised. Some are numbered among the working poor, trapped in the gig economy where Dickensian exploitation is alive. This week the Paradise Papers showed how power and position are abused. This week the Pyongyang Three, before their Famous Five fantasy fell to earth, reminded us of how utterly ludicrous some politicians are.

Is there anyone in the Dáil or even the European parliament, with the moral courage and energy to confront the issues perpetuating avoidable poverty in this Republic?

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