Sir, – Carl O’Brien’s analysis (“Ireland’s psychiatric hospitals: the last gap in our history of ‘coercive confinement’?” June 16th) should be read by all concerned about how we in the Ireland of today care for the unloved, the dispirited and ultimately the outsider.
During the lifetime of Trust (almost 40 years) we have met many people who were locked away in reformatories, psychiatric hospitals and eventually hostels, all part of the institutional chain. We have met people too who worked in those institutions, unable at times to describe their feelings of frustration of a life lived in an atmosphere of poverty. Those people never became part of the expert groups that flourished in the recent past and their thoughts were rarely if ever expressed.
Looking at what is happening today could well help us reach the conclusion that there has been little change. The pain of living a life unloved and unwanted must be unbearable.
I am mindful of the words of the late Tony Gill who used our service for many years, had spent time in institutions and is now buried in our plot in Glasnevin: “Today I spoke to no one, And nobody spoke to me. Am I dead?”
Accommodation for homeless people is impossible to access. Parks, Garda stations, tents, derelict buildings, shop doorways, etc, fill the gap.
Dr Ivor Browne recalls with shame the era of “barbaric treatment” but feels there is little to be gained in digging up the past. I agree.
Of course, it could easily salve our conscience to apportion blame without looking at the wider issues, especially the role of the State, the inadequate funding and the offloading of responsibility to other bodies. All of this is happening today. How will history judge us? – Yours, etc,
Bride Road, Dublin 8.