Vulnerable people have rights too (Irish Times)

Sir, – To see a photograph of a “vulnerable person” waved around the Dáil – for political gain – is a new low and is deeply concerning (News, November 29th). This at a time when our capital city is hurting and so many people are working hard to help it heal.

Dáil privilege is gifted to a small number of our citizens by virtue of their election to public office and should never be abused. It was clearly abused in this instance.

It is worth noting that Christmas time is open season to photograph “homeless people”, often for fundraising purposes and without their permission, unaware of the hurt it causes to families.

Human rights are for all of us. – Yours, etc,

Redefining homelessness – Definitions can limit discussion rather than enhance it

Sir, – Daniel K O’Sullivan (Letters, November 11th) reminds us of how we continue to ignore that which is unacceptable to current thinking when discussing homelessness.

Working in the field of homelessness for years, I have seen politicians, ministers and expert groups come and go, and are we further removed now from understanding the complexities and obvious remedies than we ever were?
It is important to reflect at times on what was possible during that time with objectivity. Many people lived happy lives in bedsits including this writer.

More importantly many people who fitted the definition of homelessness at the time also lived happily in bedsits – cramped conditions by today’s standards. Homeless people we meet today include couples sleeping in fragile tents, with only a cuddle to keep warm as accommodation for couples is limited. Some people are fearful of hostel accommodation, despite of the hard work of staff. Hotel accommodation in some cases is no better than the bedsits we continue to dismiss. However, one clear difference is how much it is costing the taxpayer. The debate on homelessness needs to be much broader than just redefining homelessness. Definitions can limit discussion rather than enhance it. – Yours, etc,

Director of Services,
Alice Leahy Trust,
Dublin 8.


Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use – A time for fresh thinking

Sir, – The letter from Peter Reynolds (October 3rd) captures how we as a country deal with issues that we all should be concerned about.

Drug use is widespread in our country and our elected public representatives owe it to those concerned about our future, not least our democracy, to look beyond the findings of this assembly comprised of 99 people from a jurisdiction with a population of five million. – Yours, etc,


Director of Services