It was moving to read your report of the inquest into the tragic death of Kevin Fitzpatrick, who was crushed to death in a refuse truck in Limerick last year, because of the the obvious love, care and deep concern shown towards him by his family (The Irish Times, October 23rd).
Mr Fitzpatrick often slept rough or in hostels and was well known to us in Trust. He often spoke to us affectionately about his family. Indeed, for anyone seeking to understand the nature of homelessness, the comments by his older brother Michael are telling. Kevin Fitzpatrick did not come from a broken home. His parents made every effort to get him to come home and change his lifestyle, short of “hitting him over the head”. In the end they concluded that his way of living, “which to the rest of us might seem strange, was one that made him happy”.
Kevin might have had a tendency to “push people away,” as his brother put it, but on one of his last visits to us he brought a shivering, hungry kitten and asked us to find a home for it.
In my experience of working for over 30 years with people who are homeless, Kevin Fitzpatrick’s story is not unusual. Some people do choose to live in a way that many others find unacceptable. That insensitivity and rejection of their right to be different means that considerable funds are spent by the health, social and homeless services seeking conformity from people who either cannot, or will not, fit in.
A human-rights-based approach in the management of these services, while it might sound like a lofty one, actually has the potential to save money as well as ensuring that the rights of people like the late Kevin Fitzpatrick are be better protected and respected.
– Yours, etc,
Director Co-Founder, Trust, Bride Road, Dublin 8.