Homelessness and media coverage

 

Sir, – If we can’t understand, measure and talk about the reality, how can we ever fix it?

Damien English’s remarks that “negative coverage” of the homelessness crisis was damaging to Ireland’s “international reputation” are redolent of those commentators who were criticised for “talking down property prices” just before the Great Crash in 2008. – Yours, etc,

TOM CONROY,

Rathgar,

Dublin 6.

A chara, – Damien English says that media coverage of the homelessness situation damages Ireland’s reputation abroad. Maybe the Government wants people off the streets so that Ireland’s homeless situation won’t be visible to tourists and visiting business investors. Perhaps Leo Varadkar should visit a homeless hostel and tweet pictures of that instead of ones of him loading his dishwasher in his plush home and other of his daily jaunts that would put Kim Kardashian to shame! – Yours, etc,

BRIDGET MAGUIRE,

Ballinasloe,

Co Galway.

Sir, – I find it difficult to understand how anybody could evict families in the knowledge that they are now without a roof over their heads and not have some conscience about it. It seems to be part of the consumer society to grab as much as one possibly can for oneself, with no regard for the suffering of the people concerned.

We all prided ourselves and displayed great patriotism last year during the1916 commemorations. Would not the best way to manifest this patriotism be to have compassion for our fellow countrymen and be satisfied with a fair rent? This, I think, would be in keeping with the wishes of James Connolly and the other patriots who gave their lives for this country. – Yours, etc,

MARY O’DOWD,

Kilkee,

Co Clare.

Sir, – The unsympathetic attitude of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive towards the very people it was set up to assist is shocking. To say that “it takes years of bad behaviour probably” before one becomes homeless shows a certain ignorance of the very crises situation it is tasked with solving.

The rhetoric of “us” and “them” is not merely elitist and detached, it is misguided. Homeless people and families are not “them”, they are us when we have the misfortune to lose our jobs; they may be “us” if we suffer the tragedy of losing a partner; they are us when our landlord decides to evict; they are us when a mental illness or addiction takes hold. – Yours, etc,

SIOBHÁN CONLON,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – The volunteer groups would not exist if the current system worked. We are failing our most vulnerable citizens.

Instead of patronising and castigating the ad hoc volunteer groups that have sprung up on Dublin’s streets in response to this failure, I would suggest that the authorities responsible might usefully invite them in. Not to instruct them in failed protocols and rules, but to learn from them and help to create something better; a system that shows respect and cares for those who need our help most. Then, I think the volunteer groups would be happy to hand over the reins, but until this happens, I will continue to support their tireless, generous work. – Yours, etc,

PATRICIA REILLY,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – I was greatly saddened to read what the director of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive said about homeless people and also by the recent comments of Leo Varadkar. I hope that they did not intend these comments to come across as harshly as they sounded.

Yes, sadly, many people do have “chaotic lifestyles”, but also many homeless families have been evicted through no fault of their own.

All homeless people need our compassion and support, particularly as winter sets in and we prepare to celebrate the birthday of One who was born in a stable.

I appeal to your readers to donate what they can to the respected and long-established charities such as the Capuchin Day Centre, Peter McVerry Trust and the St Vincent de Paul. – Yours, etc,

SYLVIA WIGHAM,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – I am not cheered at the sight of “volunteers” conducting these ad hoc feeding stations around the city.

I am worried that all green spaces will eventually be covered by free-tenters in their free sleeping bags and provided with free catering so as to prolong their miserable lifestyles.

Only expert staff can break this depressing cycle of facilitation of homelessness. – Yours, etc,

TONY SHEEHAN,

Castleknock,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – Right-thinkers like myself have always viewed the Good Samaritan as an interfering aul eejit who would have been better off in minding his own business and passing by the roadside malingerer, who probably had a “chaotic lifestyle”.

Today’s unfortunate citizens, who are obliged to witness the human detritus who lie lazily on the street, would be well advised to walk quickly past, staring straight ahead and ensuring that their wallet pocket is zipped up.

Alternatively, if they must converse, they might offer congratulation to the street-sleeper for getting up early in the morning. After all, these are the kind of people who the Taoiseach apparently wants to represent.

I have many other ideas on suitable official reforms across the board. For example, why should the legless not be taught to walk on their hands to save expensive equipment?

I have always found one crutch perfectly satisfactory in clearing away the blind and the bothersome on the way to my state-rescued bank. – Yours, etc,

JOHN HUNTER,

Belfast.