Bureaucracy covering up failure to help those most in need through “politically correct” language.
“Informed consent is a myth” as most vulnerable compelled to participate in research.

ALICE LEAHY – Director and Co-founder – TRUST Speaking at Burren law School, Sunday May 4, 2003 on theme “Who’s law is it anyway?”

“Ireland’s services for people who are homeless, especially in Dublin, are failing. Despite the increased resources that have been made available the most vulnerable are still being left behind,” ALICE LEAHY, Director and Co-Founder of TRUST said at the Burren Law School today (Sunday, May 4th, 2003). “At this stage real change is only possible by making social and economic rights legally enforceable. Even more so at present as many of the independent agencies that in former times might have acted as critical voices have been virtually absorbed by the bureaucracy – through grants and aid – to the point where speaking out is no longer possible without threatening their very existence.”

ALICE LEAHY went on: “Those responsible for the management of our Health and Social Services use language in a way almost designed to alienate and exclude. The use of terms like “performance indicators”, for example, means that service providers, who are supposed to be helping people who are homeless do not want to know many of those who are on the streets because they do not or cannot fit in. In other words, socially deprived people who are “difficult” are simply excluded because to try to help them might defeat their efforts to achieve their “performance indicator” targets!”

“Our mental health services are also being run down which has meant that our prisons in many instances have effectively taken over the care of many in need of psychiatric help. Patients are being discharged without any services for them in the community which has meant that many simply end up in prison. This is very easy to understand when we see that a culture of “performance indicators” increasingly drives the management ethos. The truly marginalised because they cannot cope become further marginalised as to cater for them would make the people running the services appear almost inefficient or not cost effective!”.

“Our bureaucracy is perpetuating a system that is not serving the people as it should. A culture where “political correctness” prevails makes it easy to prevent reform by making the right noises and implying those who are questioning the way the system is run are opposed to social progress. But we must find away to resist this new tyranny and make an apparently unaccountable bureaucracy face up to its responsibilities and begin to start building a system that reaches out and does not exclude the most vulnerable.”

Reminding her audience that she was speaking from her personal experience as TRUST is a small agency established in 1975 that provides front line health and social services for people who are homeless, ALICE LEAHY said: “Those responsible for day to day management appear to be divorced from reality or maybe do not want to know. In the short term something must be put in place to compel everyone in top management positions to spend time at the coal face on a regular basis. If we want people centred reforms those in charge must be forced to witness first hand what is really going on.”

ALICE LEAHY also condemned the indiscriminate way in which the poor and the marginalised are forced to participate in research with little or no regard to their basic rights. “The idea of informed consent is a myth because those being asked to participate are often put in a position where it appears to them they will loose whatever they are getting if they do not take part. While research is necessary to plan services, it does not always follow that those who are “researched” actually benefit. Strict guidelines are needed with special attention on the way these projects are managed. Everyone involved must remember that these are real people who for the most part have already been battered by society and nothing justifies their further humiliation,” she said.

TRUST is a non denominational, non party political body that provides health and social services for people who become homeless. TRUST is also committed to sharing the insights gained in its everyday work through education and advocacy. More information about TRUST can be found on our web site: www.trust-ireland.ie