President’s comments reassuring | The Irish Times, May 23rd, 2020

Sir, – President Michael D Higgins made a number of comments in an Italian publication (“Austerity ‘must not’ return, Higgins tells communist paper”, News, May 22nd).

The one that caught my eye was his “huge disappointment for him to see discrimination on the basis of age in the responses to the corona crises by so many countries”. He has given support to the many people over 70 who feel patronised, deeply insulted and discriminated against by the use of the term “cocooner” to describe them. Maybe this term was used in good faith to soften the discrimination. Why his comments should have raised “the eyebrows of senior officials and ministers” is odd because our President is deeply involved in world affairs and has his finger on the pulse of Irish life. He gives inspiration and encouragement to people of all ages, particularly to older people by his example.

Long may he continue to do so, because we all need reassurance at this challenging time. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

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Labelling older people | The Irish Times, April 16th, 2020

Sir, – Kathy Sheridan has raised very important issues about the lives of people over 70 (“Let the over-70s have a walk”, Opinion & Analysis, April 15th).

Credit is due to so many people of all ages and all walks of life at this time in our challenged world. However, it is important for all of us to keep a watchful eye to the future. How easy it will be or could become to put people over 70 on the “scrapheap”. Convenient labels do crop up with each crisis. “Bed-blocker” in the recent past is an example.

Women and men over 70 contribute to the life of this country in so many ways, like those who have gone before them. Their continuing commitment, expertise and wisdom should not be ignored, rather used to inspire confidence in the younger generation. The young people in our country need lots of encouragement and confidence to know that all will be well. When the Covid-19 crisis ends, and it will, we must ensure that people over 70 are not seen as victims but people entitled to be treated with equal respect and dignity.

Incidentally, people over 70 are often reminded that they are the new 50 when it is convenient. At this time, being allowed to walk for one hour would go some way to ensure that people are not made to feel like prisoners in their own home.

Labels do have a habit of sticking! – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

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Hope and homelessness | The Irish Times, January 24th, 2020

Sir, – I wrote to The Irish Times in the 1970s with my then-colleagues Dr David Magee and the late social worker John Long: “The buildings in which these men and women are housed belong to another age. Most of the hostels are running to capacity and they have not the staff to meet the needs of the residents other than providing a roof over their heads. There is much need for half-way houses for people trying to stay off alcohol, for psychiatric patients on discharge, and for young people to provide them with direction and support and so keep them from destroying themselves”.

Our letter said much more, especially about vacant houses in the city centre.

What have we learned over the almost 50 years, I wonder. We have had more reports from experts with vast sums of taxpayers’ money spent on same.

Meanwhile there is a huge number of people suffering, together with a growing number of frustrated workers attempting to meet their needs.

The increasing dependency on corporate-speak to highlight or cover up the real pain and potential lost by fellow human beings in a country of great wealth should be a cause for concern and acknowledged.

The following quote by Ernest Hemingway was brought to my notice recently by a friend as we reflected on these issues in the times we are living in: “Hope is never so lost that it can’t be found.” – Yours, etc,

ALICE

LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

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