Lynn Ruane says she has lost 42 friends from homelessness, addiction and suicide

Independent Senator calls for Seanad debate on class issues in Irish society

Senator Lynn Ruane has called for an open, honest conversation on the issue of class. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Senator Lynn Ruane has called for an open, honest conversation on the issue of class. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Independent Senator Lynn Ruane has revealed she has lost 42 friends in the past 20 years because of a class divide leading to homelessness, addiction and suicide.

“It is not old age, it is not cancer, it is not anything that everyone else experiences,’’ she said.

“It is the impact of how we live, where we live and the opportunities we have.’’

Ms Ruane said she had said it before, and it was something she would stand over, that class was killing Irish society.

“Were we any other group of people, this would be taken more seriously,’’ she added.

The Trinity College Senator told the Seanad on Thursday she woke up earlier to a telephone call about another friend passing away due to addiction.

So far this year, she had buried four friends, two because of addiction, one because of homelessness and the other because of suicide, she said.

Ms Ruane said she was “pleading’’ for a real, open, honest conversation in the Seanad with Minister for Justice Charlie Flangan on the issue of class.

“I have no interest in blaming ministers, budgets or all of those things,’’ she added.

She said she did not want to engage in a blame game about why society was set up in a certain way.

“I want to be able to remember my friends in a dignified way and let them know that their Government cares about them and wants to change the situation,’’ Ms Ruane added.

Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan welcomed Ms Ruane’s “passionate intervention’’ on the drugs issue.

“That 42 of her friends have died is horrific,’’ he added. “We need to debate this issue, which we have sometimes ignored.’’

Mr Feighan said there were issues in Dublin’s inner city in the early 1980s, but heroin and other drugs were now a nationwide issue.

“Young male relatives of mine from privileged backgrounds have died,’’ he added.

“We need to have this serious debate in the new year.’’