Madam, – “Why are high-achieving grown men and women with fine university educations and highly specialised training afraid to speak out?” asked Prof Tom O’Dowd (Opinion, March 12th). In posing this question he has done this country a great service.

In Trust we have been involved for 35 years in working with people who are homeless, and during that time we have witnessed the silencing of prophetic and challenging voices. On a daily basis we ask ourselves and others ask us: why are people afraid to speak out? The absence of whistle-blowers legislation and fear of losing one’s job or failing to gain a promotion all play a part together with the terrible fear of being isolated. At an organisational level fear of losing funding is all too obvious in recent times.

It is worth reflecting on the words of the late Pastor Martin Niemöller: First they came for the Communists and I didn’t speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant so I didn’t speak up. Then they came for me. By that time there was no one to speak up for me. – Yours, etc,