A little help please …
Deaglán de Bréadún
Herewith a letter in today’s Irish Times. It restates the classic liberal position, which I would agree with in principle. But as someone who works in the city centre every day – and has done so since the late 1970s – I have to observe that there is something new taking place on the “begging front”.
The increase in numbers is quite dramatic – and this after a period of unprecedented prosperity. I don’t think the problem can be left untouched and that we can just go on like before. There needs to be a solution that is “tough on begging, tough on the causes of begging”.
It’s not enough, as I said in my previous post, to sweep it under the carpet with fines and a tough, legalistic approach. The social factors behind this begging-surge must be dealt with as well. Anyway, read the letter and see what you think (I’m assuming the author is the better half of the former Fine Gael leader and taoiseach John Bruton.)
Madam, – The proposed new law against begging is an attempt to take our humanity away from us. It is providing us with a carte blanche excuse to turn our hearts and our minds away from those most in need – not just of our money but of the human encounter, the smile, the touch, the greeting.
No amount of rationalisation – updating the law, High Court imperatives, tourism or business – can justify this attempt to suppress and subordinate whatever remnants of compassion have been left on our shores as the tide of wealth ebbs slowly away.
How do any of us know the circumstances of those begging on our streets? How can we now teach our children to give according to their hearts, unrestricted and unhampered by some set of utilitarian rules or laws? – Yours, etc,