Against the tide

Sir, – Thanks to Arthur Beesley for remembering Noël Browne in his An Irishman’s Diary of May 30th.

He gave me an opportunity to reflect again on the courage and commitment of Dr Noël Browne, who died 25 years ago.

No doubt his family background, recovery from TB, his experience of dealing with officialdom, and the wonderful family who helped him made him the man he was.

He had the courage and strength to challenge the powers that be and, much more importantly, encouraged and inspired a few others to do likewise.

Remembering walking through the streets of Dublin in all weathers, to take people who were living on the streets or in basic shelters in the 1970s, to one of the two TB clinics wasn’t easy. Neither was it easy contacting their relatives, and more importantly dealing with the stigma of TB. That stigma remains painful today in many families.

I still remember at that time sitting with colleagues in Simon in the open air in the then Northumberland Square listening to him as we shared ideas.

We all left inspired and full of enthusiasm to care for our fellow human beings, pose questions and not be afraid to do so.

Yes, no street in the capital bears his name. He never received the freedom of the city of Dublin.

But he did get the admiration of a younger generation of that time, even if he was seen by many as being difficult to deal with.

Today, half a century later, that remains how one is seen if one poses awkward questions.

What would he think of how our country is dealing with people at this ever-challenging time, particularly elderly people, and people with disabilities.

The list is endless.

The use of corporate-speak so often used now to avoid looking at the real pain of living for many people is everywhere.

I guess he would go “Against the Tide” with vigour.


Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust ,

Dublin 8 .