“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.” – Proverbs 28:27.
During the current year, 2016, we celebrated the one hundred year of our struggle for Irish independence, with at least some €22 million, minimum, in taxpayer funding, spent in various ways, but mainly in the areas, both in and around, Sackville Street, today better known as O’Connell Street; Dublin’s main thoroughfare.
Travelling through Dublin in recent weeks, one could not help but notice the number of homeless people begging and sleeping rough in the streets of this same city. By sleeping rough I mean men and women of all ages sleeping or bedded down in the freezing open air, seeking refuge in filthy doorways, parks and bus shelters; people sleeping in buildings or other places not designed for human habitation e.g. car parks, living what now appears to be the socially acceptable “Plastic Bag” and “Wet Cardboard” lifestyle.
A headcount taken in our Capital’s city centre area recently found 168 people were sleeping rough with this figure not including some 60 people sharing a floor in the Merchant’s Quay Night Cafe and an unknown number of persons bedded down, hidden from immediate sight in the 1752 acres of the Phoenix Park, latter containing ‘Áras an Uachtaráin’, the residence currently occupied by the head of State and President of our ‘Emerald Green Island’.
Now towards the end of 2016, following our 100 year commemorations / celebrations; call them what you will; it would appear our current minority Fine Gael government have failed dismally to adhere to the very ideals of Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins. Where now in 2016 are spoken the words of Collins; quote; “For the future, we must not have the destitution of poverty at one end, and at the other, an excess of riches”?
So also our rapidly diminishing so called Irish Labour Party, which propped up the outgoing Fine Gael government over the previous 5 years. They too, in their greed for power, have overlooked the accurate prophesy in the words spoken by their once executed associate James Connolly, quote: “If you remove the English army tomorrow, unless you set about the organisation of a Socialist Republic, she will still continue to rule you through her Capitalists, through her Landlords, through her Financiers“.
Current statements like “no person will be on the streets unless they want to be” are no longer acceptable from those who were elected to rule over us. When will the practice of allowing those refusing shelter; sleeping on mattresses of wet cardboard; wrapped in discarded plastic bags, cease? I say this in the knowledge of the problems within homeless shelters, due to individuals having complex drink and drug related struggles. Accept it; people lying in doorways do not feel safe in sheltered accommodation, while forced to sleep, wearing footwear on their feet; in the sure and certain knowledge if they do not, their shoes, together with other meagre possessions, will be stolen by morning.
What would it cost our government, (who knowingly amongst other unnecessary spending, used an estimated €27 million of taxpayers money, on a postal code system, namely Eircode, which possibly will never be wholly used), to provide one warm coat, a pair of stout shoes and a one-person tent that can be compressed into a portable bag (See picture above), to a mere couple of hundred rough sleepers at most?
If we see ourselves as Christians, surly it is time to examine and act immediately on the urgent and very basic needs of a few people who, for whatever reason, choose to sleep rough in conditions, (dare I say unfit for an animal), exposing themselves to the current freezing winter conditions, being experienced over recent weeks, on the streets of our cities.
“Take heed and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” – St. Luke 12:15