The deaths of two people sleeping rough reminds us of how a section of homeless people could easily be overlooked. This, at a time when the housing crisis is top of the agenda and money, bricks and mortar urgently being sourced to solve the problem, and rightly so.
Up to recent years reports on homelessness generally referred to the people who were homeless as the ‘single homeless’. These people do and will continue to exist and pose very difficult challenges for those attempting to care for them.
People who fit into this category often reject the conventional values of society and some have themselves been rejected, many of whom have myriad problems.
There is no ‘quick-fix’ solution to this problem. Why someone would choose to live outside poses huge questions about the type of society we live in. A fast-moving society focused on success. Building relationships is a long process requiring time, commitment and – more importantly – an understanding that giving time to others is not time wasted.
Exactly this time 25 years ago, in 1992, two people, Pauline and Danny, made headlines when they died. John Egan, an RTÉ reporter, asked me were there any lessons to be learned from their deaths.
I felt then, and still do, that such a tragedy prompts all of us to ask questions.
A practical solution, however old fashioned it may appear, would be a clean, warm, safe, well run, openaccess shelter.
Ireland always ensured the outsiders were acknowledged, even if only in poems and song.
We should ensure that this remains the case and their deaths, as David Essex reminds us, is not “only a winter’s tale, just another winter’s tale”.

Alice Leahy
Alice Leahy Trust, Dublin 8

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