Ciara’s wonderful short story

Sir – I hadn’t yet read my Sunday Independent (December 31) when a man I know tapped me on the shoulder to tell me he had read a wonderful short story by Ciara Ferguson, called The Little Smashed Girl, while having his coffee in a St Stephen’s Green cafe. “Do read it”, he said.
It was a wonderful read and captured, so accurately, what we have begun to take for granted in our capital city and beyond. Ciara portrayed the many emotions, some hidden, when telling the story of this young, homeless woman in Dublin. It was fiction, maybe in this instance, but so real. While we are bombarded with statistics on a daily basis, I hope this didn’t deter people for reading this short tale. It should be read by those with responsibility for planning and delivery of services – because it’s what so many homeless people are experiencing today, but they are often unable to articulate their problem.

Alice Leahy,
Alice Leahy Trust
Dublin 8

Tackle scourge of rural isolation

Madam — Last week’s Sunday Independent covered the important political events of the week. DecIan Lynch, however, captured so well an issue of grave concern in today’s Ireland.

The terminology used at all levels obscures conveniently the real picture of what is happening throughout our country. The spin used to cover up the pain, isolation, and potential of human beings cast aside, many of those just because of their age and location, is breathtaking. The numerous jargon-filled reports compiled with conclusions reached with ‘focus groups’ conveniently never delve beneath the surface. The value of the chat with a cigarette, pint of stout, post-mortem on the races won and lost in a warm pub, with a neighbour who lives miles away, is now sadly confined to history.

DecIan’s article shouId be compulsory reading for planners. Politicians have a responsibility to address this issue. Rural isolation and indeed pockets of isolation in urban areas should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Alice Leahy, Director & Co-Founder, TRUST, Dublin

In praise of independence

Sir — On the morning after I read John O’Brien’s wonderful article on rural isolation I had a visit from a garda enquiring about a man who had died, trying to track his movements in the last month of his life. Less than an hour later I was contacted by a woman living in rural Ireland whose brother had contact with Trust over the years. She was awaiting the release of her brother’s body for burial after being found dead in his city centre flat, where he had lain dead for about a month — too long to be identified without access to his dental records.

The article should be compulsory reading, not just for people interested in the GAA.

Some people working in the area of health and social services are aware no doubt of cases like this, some stressing the importance of independence if even living in “a world that has stood still for generations”.

“Experts” who plan services are too often removed from the reality of people’s lives, their time spent juggling statistics around to measure performance and outcomes without due regard to the resilience, wonder and complexities of the human condition.

The picture accompanying the article might be shocking, but it captures the contentment of Mick who some day yet may celebrate in Croke Park.

Alice Leahy,

Director & Co-founder, Trust,

Bride Road, Dublin 8