Deaths should make us think | Irish Independent 1 Dec 2017

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

EXTRACT FROM PRESS RELEASE FROM ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS OF IRELAND – 21st OCTOBER 2017

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) today welcomes homeless campaigner and carer, Alice Leahy, writer Colm Tóibín, historian Roy Foster, fashion designer Louise Kennedy, pianist John O’Connor, President Royal Australian College of Physicians Dr Catherine Yelland, Consultant Paediatric Pulmonologist Prof Bernard Kinane and Olympian Eamon Coghlan as Honorary Fellows.

Honorary Fellowship is the highest honour bestowed by RCPI and is reserved for individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to society.

RCPI President, Prof Mary Horgan, paid tribute to the new Honorary Fellows and said this honour is in recognition of their contribution to medicine, care of the homeless, music, history, literature, fashion and sport. “Medicine and the humanities can work together in a holistic way to improve the health of the nation and our newest Honorary Fellows exemplify this. Ireland not only has a rich tradition in culture, the arts, music, and sport but also historically has made an enormous contribution to medicine. As a nation we are world leaders in these fields and our college is delighted to recognise this with our highest honour.

The members and fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland work with people in a variety of settings, including the homeless. President Horgan said it was important to recognise that need to care for the health of those who are without homes at this time.

“Homeless women have a life expectancy of 38 while for men its 42 as those who find themselves without somewhere to call their own age prematurely. Health plays a defining role in the homeless crisis in Ireland. It is not all about housing. Ill health, addiction and social exclusion are major factors in the homeless crisis. We are honouring Alice Leahy for her long dedication to caring for the homeless with this Honorary Fellowship.”

Alice Leahy, Director of Services of the Alice Leahy Trust said:

“I was surprised, humbled and deeply honoured to receive this Fellowship. My work would not be possible without the support of people from all sections of the community including so many dedicated members of the medical profession. This award recognises my wonderful colleagues, our directors, supporters and most importantly the people who use our service and inspire and challenge us in equal measure”.

Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland | Irish Times 17th October

Professor Mary Horgan, who is the first woman president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) and homelessness campaigner Alice Leahy who will receive an honorary fellowship of the RCPI on October 21st. The annual St Luke’s Symposium takes place at the RCPI, 6 Kildare Street, Dublin 2 from October 18th-21st. Public events include a day of heritage lectures focusing on women in medicine and a free public meeting’Living and Ageing Well in the 21st Century’ with talks from former politician, Mary O’Rourke and psychiatrist, Prof Jim Lucey.

Registration on rcpi.ie/stlukes2017/

Public inconvenience | Irish Times 22nd September

Sir, – Peter Cluskey, reporting on a court case in Amsterdam that sparked a national row about urinating in public, notes claims made in court that the city had fewer public toilets for women than any other European capital (“To pee or not to pee? Amsterdam court case sparks national row”, September 20th). This made me scratch my head. I wondered had they ever visited Dublin, a European capital city where there are no public toilets for women or men? You wouldn’t want to get “taken short” here. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.