Cruel poverty in a rich country - Queueing for Christmas food

At least 2,500 people queued for Christmas food parcels at just one support centre in Dublin yesterday morning. 

A long, patient line of people began to gather before 8am at the Capuchin Centre at Bow St, where, according to Br Kevin Crowley, the queue was “bigger than last year”.

This is just one of many public or private initiatives designed to help those who, for whatever reason fate decrees, need material support at this time of the year. This organisation, and many others like it, deal with the consequences of personal difficulties, poverty, homelessness or any of the other tragedies most of us imagine we are immune to. No matter how it is dressed up this kind of intervention, this level of need, should not be so pressing in Ireland of 2016.

This is a rich country and even if that old capitulation — “the poor will always be with us” — is tolerated it seems at least incongruous that so many people are dependent on the kindness of strangers at this festive time of the year. This represents political and social failure that was not as recognised as it should have been when the centenary of 1916 was celebrated with such imagination and gusto over recent months.

There is hardly a society in the world that can say that even its most vulnerable members are free from want or hunger but is it too ambitious, too idealistic to argue that a small, relatively well-resourced society like ours should aspire to proudly making that declaration?


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