Comfort, hope and inspiration

Sir, – Jennifer O’Connell (Opinion & Analysis, January 1st) made an important point shared by many. “Night after night a changing cast of suited men at podiums told us about decisions that will affect all our lives for years, maybe decades”.

Research no doubt would show that the majority of people, doctors and nurses, caring for critically ill patients in overcrowded hospitals, etc, are women.

These dedicated women and men who care compassionately and professionally too often are taken for granted and poorly paid. Bonuses and spin would not enter their heads. They are too busy providing compassionate and professional care to seriously ill patients. Their thanks must be in the knowing that they bring comfort, hope and inspiration to so many worried people at this time.

Their work when acknowledged is what will enable change. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

Link

Justice system and mentally-ill prisoners – Alice on Irish Times

Sir, – “Ireland’s justice and health systems are failing people in the prison system who are mentally ill” according to the report published by the Mental Health Commission (November 15th).

Having spent a number of years visiting all prisons in this State as a member of the Sentence Review Group, and witnessed the number of reports written over that time, I can state with respect that it is not a new phenomenon.

Working with people who are homeless for nearly half a century, we continue to see people struggling to cope with serious mental health issues, so often ending up in Garda stations, the only door open to them.

We have heard some people say prison offered them a welcome respite, in this day and age we should and must do better. Prison continues to be a dumping ground for so many of society’s problems that should be addressed, long before imprisonment takes place.

I have met so many committed healthcare workers, prison staff and others working in various disciplines, not forgetting the struggling relatives who have often felt themselves isolated in a bureaucratic world when they attempt to describe their difficulties and seek help and support.

Some readers will remember the much publicised Care in the Community of some years back, it was never properly planned or resourced and remains a mirage.

What we witness still is a reminder of how we dealt with problems in the recent past and with the assurances that it could never happen again. All sections of society have a role to play in acknowledging and addressing this very serious problem. Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.

– Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

 

Link to the Irish Times here

 

Room for another political party? – Alice on Irish Times

Sir, – Michael McDowell always manages to pose important questions and challenges the reader to look outside the box. His article “Is there room for another political party?” (Opinion & Analysis, October 13th) should surely lead to debate. From what I hear daily from my interaction with people from all sections of society, he is not alone in asking that question.

Groupthink is flourishing, leading as it does to poor-quality decision making, with many voices being excluded. Our democracy needs to be understood and valued and this can only happen when people realise that their contribution can make a difference.

Groupthink, supported by corporate language, has conspired to silence alternative voices in so many areas of public life. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Dublin 8.

A chara, – Michael McDowell asks “Is there room for another political party?”.

He’s been there. He’s done that. Let him reflect on his T-shirt. – Is mise,

EOGHAN MacCORMAIC,

Cill Chríost,

Co na Gaillimhe.

 

Link to the Irish Times here

The complexities of homelessness – Alice on Irish Times

Sir, – The death of a person labelled “homeless” evokes huge emotion, and rightly so (“Two men found dead in Dublin”, News, November 26th.

Tragedies such as these, happening so close to Christmas, make it difficult to have a balanced discussion. The deaths of two men in our capital city, with one located so close to Dáil Éireann, have added significance. However, we all know from experience that misery can be used opportunistically.

The comments from Dublin Region Homeless Executive are worth noting. “It is important to emphasise the need to maintain confidentiality around these deaths and that these people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their passing”.

May I suggest that they are entitled to that as a fundamental right.

It has become far too easy to forget that people have families and loved ones, many of whom have struggled to help them, often in dire circumstances.

The rush to apportion blame can lose sight of how complex a problem homelessness actually is.

Unfortunately, to express this view can leave one open to ridicule, and I know this only too well.

Addiction, mental health problems, low self-esteem resulting from factors such as childhood trauma, and the pain of living, sometimes beyond description, can all lead to homelessness.

Labels stick, and even when one is happily living in good supported housing, a place they call home, they can find themselves labelled homeless – even in death.

The time to have a well-informed, open and honest discussion around the complexities of homelessness, while of course acknowledging the need for more housing, is long overdue. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

 

Link to the Irish Times here