Archbishops warn of distress behind ‘endless’ homelessness figures

Primates emphasise that having a home gives humans a sense of ‘personal dignity’

Archbishop Eamon Martin, above, and Archbishop Richard Clarke warned against losing sight of the circumstances endured by those behind the official figures documenting the homelessness crisis. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Archbishop Eamon Martin, above, and Archbishop Richard Clarke warned against losing sight of the circumstances endured by those behind the official figures documenting the homelessness crisis. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Catholic and Protestant archbishops of Armagh have warned people not to forget the individual distress and hardship behind “endless” homelessness statistics in Ireland.

In a joint Christmas message, Archbishop Eamon Martin and Archbishop Richard Clarke urged the country to think about what it will be like for those without a home over the coming weeks .

“There is no place quite like home – especially at Christmas time,” they said.

“Many people who are working and living outside of Ireland are already counting the days before coming home to spend the festive season with their families and loved ones.”

The primates said “home” is not only a place of security and love, but having a home also gives human beings a sense of “personal dignity”.

“Think for a moment of what it would be like this Christmas to be without a home,” they said.

Shop doorway

“To be without a place of shelter. To be out in the cold. To be on your own, living on the streets. Sleeping in the shelter of a shop doorway.

“Not knowing where your next meal is going to come from. Not sure whether or not someone is going to attack you or abuse you for no other reason than the fact you are destitute or ‘look different’.

“Sadly that is the reality for many people in Ireland today who are homeless.”

They warned against losing sight of the dire circumstances endured by those behind the constant stream of official figures documenting the crisis.

“The endless repetition of statistics about housing and homelessness, particularly at this time of the year, should not dull the reality that behind each of these numbers lies a personal story of distress and hardship,” they said.