‘Is modern medicine doing more harm than good?’ | The Irish Times 4th April 2019

Sir, – “Is modern medicine doing more harm than good?”, Dr Muiris Houston asks (Health + Family, April 2nd).

Every so often this challenging and welcome question arises.

Many of us remember Ivan Illich’s book Medical Nemesis; it was required reading at a pre-Google time when we met in groups to analyse and debate his views, always leading to healthy and heated arguments.

Dr Séamus O’Mahony’s book Can Medicine be Cured? reminds me of our now departed friend Prof James McCormick whose book The Doctor, Father Figure or Plumber? was published in 1979.

In 1994 James wrote an appreciation in The Irish Times remembering his friend and colleague Prof Petr Skrabanek (mentioned by Muiris Houston) whose views were taken seriously by thinking physicians throughout the world.

“Future generations will honour his learning, the elegance of his writing and the cogency of his criticism”, Prof McCormick wrote.

The questions raised and challenges posed by these people at different times are so important, now more than ever before.

These are issues not just for members of the medical profession but for all working with or concerned about the health of fellow human beings.

Today medicine is so often seen as the only solution to the pain of living. – Yours, etc,


Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

Rise in use of antidepressants | The Irish Times 9th March 2019

Sir, – Few people would be surprised to see the massive rise in the prescribing of antidepressants. The daily stress experienced by so many people is tangible.

The pain of living for some people is unbearable, and the only hope of relief for many is a prescription from a GP.

GPs can struggle to find appropriate services to refer people on to for support.

Professionals have told us they can often find themselves accused of “wasting time with people” if not adhering to time limits, generally set up by those with questionable experience in the value of human contact.

This too we now hear is creeping into the NGO and voluntary sectors, with pressure on them to meet targets to get funding.

This certainly will have consequences for many vulnerable people and those attempting to care for them.

The late Tony Gill who lived on the streets was known to us for many years and rests now in our burial plot in Glasnevin.

He once wrote: “Today I spoke to no one, And nobody spoke to me. Am I dead?”

With those simple words he certainly captured a sign of the times we are living in. – Yours, etc,



Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

Crude language is slippery slope | Irish Sunday Times 24th February 2019

“Have we humans always been so hateful to each other?” Justine McCarthy asks, a powerful question that should be asked nationwide at all levels(“Contempt is coming from the top down”, comment, last week).
The level of disrespect being shown to people in all walks of life is breathtaking when walking along the streets, shopping, on the buses or attempting to get service. It is even likely that road traffic accidents would decline if the simple word “respect” was practised.
The widespread use of crude language to get a point across is particularly unnecessary. Watching Dail “debates” has become painful and inspires little confidence, a real problem for our cherished democracy. This is a place where a good example should be shown. Tv and radio debates also leave much to be desired at times.
McCarthy’s article should be read widely. Maybe it would be a first step to making us nicer people.

Alice Leahy
Director of Services
Alice Leahy Trust

Public toilets and the capital | The Irish Times 22nd November 2018

Sir, – At last Dublin City Council has budgeted €200,000 for two public toilets in a location yet to be decided on (Olivia Kelly, “Public toilets in pipeline for city centre after 20-year absence”, News, November 20th).

Isn’t it amazing that this decision should make headlines?

The Irish Times should take some credit for this decision following on its Weekend Review feature “Capital Ideas – 10 ideas for improving Dublin’s infrastructure, economy and daily life” (November 20th).

The Letters Page has raised the issue many times over the years. For publishing my plea for this issue to be addressed, I would like to say thank you. It’s been a long wait. – Yours, etc,


Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.