‘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,

ALICE LEAHY,

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,

ALICE

LEAHY,

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

Homeless campaigner Alice Leahy named humanitarian of the year | The Irish Times 26th November 2018

Irish Red Cross awards recognise pupils’ campaign to revoke classmate’s deportation

Homeless campaigner Alice Leahy has been named as humanitarian of the year at an Irish Red Cross awards ceremony.

Ms Leahy was recognised for her lifetime of dedication to helping society’s most disadvantaged people, said Pat Carey, Irish Red Cross chairman.

“She has developed an unrivalled understanding of the needs of those on the margins of society and during every day of her working life she has implemented practical measures to help combat social exclusion,” Mr Carey added.

Ms Leahy, director and co-founder of the Alice Leahy Trust – a support centre for homeless people – has been working to secure better services for vulnerable people since the mid-1970s.

Students at Tullamore College who campaigned to revoke the deportation order of their friend Nonso Moujeke were also recognised at the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards.

The Offaly teenager was facing deportation to Nigeria earlier this year despite having lived in Ireland since he was two years old.