Turning public toilets into cafés | Irish Times 7th November 2018

Sir, – The former public toilets on Kevin Street will be brought back into use as a café “as soon as practical” (News, November 5th). Should Dublin City Council not see fit to invest in this much-needed facility there must be a business concern with the foresight to see that public toilet facilities are required in our capital city. The business could then hand it back to be run by Dublin City Council. I noticed recently in the UK budget that there was tax relief for public lavatories. My submission in The Irish Times last Saturday regarding 10 big ideas to make Dublin better includes a description of how Paris provides public toilets staffed by friendly municipal workers. If Paris can do it, what is stopping us from doing it? – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

Snobbery and the housing crisis | The Irish Times 16th October 2018

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s article “Snobbery is at the root of the housing crisis” raises a very important issue and not just about housing.

Sadly snobbery is alive and well in society and it is good to be reminded of that fact. Education in the broadest sense and good example is the first step to addressing it.

Attitudinal change takes time.

Objections to proposed locations of social housing are often led by elected representatives and this gives oxygen to snobbery and social exclusion.

Your columnist writes: “The way to avoid turning public housing estates into ghettoes is not to stop building them. It is to make social housing available to a much wider range of people and to allocate it in a way that ensures that the communities that inhabit it are varied”

It is plain to see the wisdom of those words. Surely those in a position of responsibility to address the housing problem should reflect on his words and lead by example. It would benefit the wider society. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Bride Road,

Dublin 8.

Sectioning homeless people | The Irish Times 6th March 2018

Sir, – Why was there such surprise that a huge number of people presented for emergency beds, not on the “system” and not known to the many outreach teams? This came as no surprise to many of us working in the field.

Increasing numbers of people, mainly young men who never thought they would end up homeless, now find themselves on the streets. We know there are people hidden away in squats, cars, bushes, tents, etc, because they call to us daily, with many coming from outside this jurisdiction. Some people feel the pressure to conform or fit in, but wish to remain private and therefore are unable to access accommodation as a consequence. The challenges some people pose have been downplayed. Building relationships with people requires a lot of time and understanding. Sometimes the only way society can cope with challenging behaviour is by locking people away in prison or psychiatric institutions. A number of people were sectioned last week “for their own safety”. Sectioning someone has huge implications. Who would wish to see poverty or exclusion in other forms medicalised or people locked away if even for a short period and all that that implies?

Our nation’s history of dealing with challenging people and behaviours in the recent past has been well documented and condemned widely. This could well be repeated if a broad-based debate does not take place, sooner rather than later, about people’s rights in this area. There are many people who have great difficulty coping with life and some people have mental health issues. Other people clearly have a different way of viewing the world and that should be respected.

Is it ever possible to protect people from themselves? – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Bride Road,

Dublin 8.