News

Homeless hostel and local consultation | The Irish Times, November 15, 2019

Sir, – Independent Cllr Mannix Flynn has said it is unacceptable that Ireland’s largest homeless hostel was being opened without any consultation with the business or residential community (“State’s largest homeless hostel to open over café”, News, November 14th). It appears to me that this is the way of doing things in the Ireland of today. The powers that be, that is those who make the decisions, then often wonder why there are complaints, and indeed very often legitimate ones. In this area where we work there is a huge concentration of services for people who are homeless.

From our long experience of working in the field, smaller units of accommodation appear to be much more beneficial, with emphasis on quality rather than on quantity. Many of the isolated people we meet who sleep rough don’t like crowded accommodation, and they are likely to continue sleeping rough, in spite of the efforts of many hard-working people.

All in this country are only too well aware of the lack of housing, but it is surely time that a broader, more inclusive debate takes place around homelessness.

Currently it appears from what we see in the media that decisions are made behind closed doors, and this is not particularly helpful.

A little bit of common sense would indeed be helpful to ensure we avoid the blame game that we have now become so familiar with. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

‘Keep the music playing on Lyric FM for all our sakes’ | Irish Independent 24th September 2019

Since Lyric FM first aired in 1999, its music has wafted through our basement centre in the Liberties.

Back then the people who used our service came from the island of Ireland. In recent years the people who call come from up to 26 different countries and all sleeping out in parks, doorways and so on throughout the city and beyond.

The music creates a peaceful atmosphere for all those who use our service and those who attempt to meet their needs. The benefits are unquantifiable. Language barriers break down as the body language at times acknowledges the composer from a home place miles away.

This generally follows on with a struggling attempt to share its history and its special place in the culture of one’s country of birth. Dare I suggest Lyric FM at times defuses potential racism and aggressive behaviour as the music plays on?

“Music is the language of the spirit, it opens the secret of life, bringing peace, abolishing strife,” wrote Kahlil Gibran.

There is a world out there which rarely reaches the centre of power, where decisions are made. So let’s hope common sense prevails and the wonderful station with informed and dedicated presenters continues to brighten our days.

Alice Leahy

Bride Road, Dublin

Suicide and bereavement | The Irish Times 18th September 2019

Sir, – Patsy McGarry writes: “But someone, somewhere must address the appalling aftermath of suicide.”

These few words reflect those said by so many people too often ashamed or even afraid to say how they feel in the aftermath of the suicide of a loved one.

Acknowledging this fact would lead to much-needed discussion on the topic. This could only be helpful to the many people grieving in silence, and constantly asking themselves, why!– Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.

“We should pay heed to Mannix’s firm views” | Irish Daily Mail 4th September 2019

Regarding the Brenda Power article headlined, ‘So who will dare back him?’ (Mail yesterday) – we [Alice Leahy Trust] have been working with people labelled homeless in our capital city for over 40 years.
We regularly say that we should not be here looking at the amount of money that has been spent over the years in the field of homelessness. Councillor Mannix Flynn is a man who has a huge experience of poverty and, more importantly, he has the courage to say it as it is with honesty. He has been doing this in relative isolation far too long. Too many people, including some public representatives, say privately they agree with him but haven’t the courage of their convictions to speak out. ‘The reality is that there is almost no tolerance of any alternative voice on the issue of begging and rough sleeping in the capital of our country. If you are to suggest that the epidemic of begging might perhaps not all be the fault of society then you are labelled a bigot and a fascist’ – how true those words from Brenda Power are.
We can only make some progress in dealing with these issues if we are confident enough to say it as it is and mature enough to listen to the alternative voices.

ALICE LEAHY,
director of services,
Alice Leahy Trust, Dublin 8