Madam, – Your paper, through your Editorial and Carl O’Brien’s excellent Invisible Lives series (February 2nd and 3rd), highlights the manner in which some of the most vulnerable people in our country are treated.

Successive governments in times of plenty allowed this situation to continue. Minister of State for Disability John Moloney said a year ago funds were not available to implement change, therefore it requires cross-departmental support to ensure this appalling situation is not allowed to continue.

We have been involved in working with people who are homeless for 35 years and during that time, despite the so-called Celtic Tiger years, we have witnessed the results of the running down of services.

Discharging long-stay patients into the community has in the past been seen as a cheap option because many people were just discharged to hostels – alternative institutions, but cheaper to run at times. Other long-stay patients have been discharged to live in vulnerable communities without adequate support services and these must be put in place to ensure people can live with dignity, something we should all expect in the 21st century.

According to Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights everyone is entitled to dignity and respect, and it is shocking that the Irish State violates that principle in a systematic way everyday in its treatment of so many of our vulnerable fellow citizens. We have long campaigned for rights-based management approaches in all areas of the health, homeless and social services to ensure the person is put at the centre of the system. However, there can be no doubt that the lack of appropriate care in our services for the most vulnerable people is one of the most serious human rights concerns in Ireland today. It demands urgent action. – Yours, etc,

Alice Leahy