Today's Indo reminds us that our planning for homeless people isn't yet up to scratch:
For some time now I have sought to be a friend of the homeless in our fine city of Dublin.
Their plight is a grim one, especially in these cold and wet winter months.
I have been told that there is an archaic law against begging in this country, which was instituted in the famine years. People were, and are, expected to roll over and die instead of ask for help. This law was instituted and is still enforced, presumably because begging looks bad and make people feel uncomfortable. The reality that it should make people feel uncomfortable, it makes me uncomfortable enough to write this letter.
The fact of the matter is that some of the most venerable people in our society are frequently moved along from their begging sites, by the guardians of the peace, the Gardai. These people are no threat to the peace; in fact most of them seek to eak out a living in an honest way, when so many others in their position are prepared to rob.
Today, as I was talking with one of my friends, who happens to be homeless, a Garda approached to tell him to move on. I asked the Garda "how does that make you feel?" The Garda quickly wiftly moved on. Surely he must have been ashamed. The reality is he should be. We all should be ashamed.
My homeless friend assured me that the Garda was just following orders. Should this help us all to sleep easy at night?
I know this is an extreme comparison, but surely Nazi soldiers were just following orders when they exterminated millions of Jews. Did that make it alright?
It takes people of character to stand up in the face of such inequality. I urge all people including TDs, the minister of Justice, Judges and members of the public to push for change of this law archaic and inhumane law.
I urge Gardai to show mercy to the homeless.
I would ask each Garda this question. As a youngster, when you dreamed of being a police man or woman, did you think that you would be engaged in such tasks as moving the homeless out of sight?
I ask everyone this question. If your situation were not so fortunate, would you ask for help in an honest way, begging?
Is what a person who begs receives any different to what hundreds of people legally make a living out of from street fund raising?
Change this law.