Remembering Mary Banotti – A wise and humble woman with an enquiring mind

Sir, – Hearing of the death of Mary Banotti reminded me of a morning walking the streets of Dublin with her a lifetime ago (“‘Trailblazer’ former Fine Gael MEP Mary Banotti has died”, News, May 11th). We met very early in the morning, wearing sensible shoes, knowing what lay ahead. We were both nurses and she wanted to see how we were working with homeless people and how she could help us. She was a wise and humble woman with an enquiring mind. It was a long morning, with no mobile phone distractions. We visited the many hospital casualty departments, the hostels, night-shelters, day centres and met people from all sections of the community en route. We met homeless people going to work in the gardens of better-off people, and some going to court where the judge was on first-name terms with them. We met friendly gardaí, often well known to the people we worked with. Some people were slipping in and out of the “early houses”. We spent time walking through the grounds of St Brendan’s Hospital meeting people lost in their own thoughts, and others spoke simply about institutional life. She listened intently and treated everyone with respect. She was interested to know how I ended up where I was and was most interested in my Tipperary roots where there was a huge emphasis on our shared community responsibility. She wore a pair of my mother’s hand-knitted gloves until they fell apart!

We exchanged correspondence over the years and we met last a few years ago and I was so pleased to thank her once again for her encouragement. I wonder what she would think of today’s Ireland? I am sure she would say “We live in a great little country” and “Yes we can”. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services, Alice Leahy Trust

 

Link: https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/2024/05/14/remembering-mary-banotti

Letter to the Irish Times: Why manners matter – Renewed focus needed

Sir, – Sadly the lack of manners is widespread in our society, regardless of what paper one decides to read (Letters, April 24th). Doesn’t this say so much about respect for oneself and others?

A renewed focus on manners could go a long way in helping people feel that they matter.

Thankfully, we experience amazing courtesy every day from the people who use our service, all of whom are homeless, many of them coming from outside the island of Ireland. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Link: https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/2024/04/25/why-manners-matter/

Irish Times: The human factor is key to helping citizens

Faith in public service is restored

Sir, – The embarrassment of being put off the bus in front of my neighbours, with an out-of-date public service card, with very small print, was facing me, having not received a letter I was informed was posted to me pre-Christmas.

A quick internet search for a number to ring was easy. The pre-recorded message, interspersed with music I could dance a jig to, informed me that all lines were busy and an “agent” would be with me as soon as possible. Eventually my call was answered, followed by a number of questions, including what was my mother’s maiden name. I was advised to contact my local Intreo Centre (Department of Social Protection), yes another new name now! I didn’t relish doing so based on past experience.

I called in to D’Olier House in Dublin and in the space of five minutes my faith in public service was restored. I met the most helpful, professional woman with a wonderful smile that would brighten one’s day, Joan. She even offered to give me a letter to ensure my bus trip would be embarrassment-free pending arrival of my updated card. Joan clearly saw me as a fellow human being, not just a statistic to facilitate box-ticking. We clearly need people like her to help people feel they do matter, and there are a lot of people needing services in our technical-dependent age who feel they don’t matter. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,
Director of Services,
Alice Leahy Trust,
Dublin 8.

See: https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/2024/03/27/the-human-factor-is-key-to-helping-citizens/