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HOMELESSNESS

Fr Jim Cogley



One of the speakers at our Annual pilgrimage in Our Ladys Island a few seasons back was Fr Peter Mc Verry, the founder of the Mc Verry Trust. He is one man who most deserves admiration as the champion of homelessness in Ireland and who has done more to alleviate this form of suffering than anyone that we can think of. Over the years I have admired him for being an outspoken defender for those who are vulnerable and have no voice. Also, for his relentless and ongoing battles with government agencies, to provide food and shelter for those in need. I deeply share his view that it is a dreadful indictment on our government that in a country that is one, if not the, wealthiest in the world, we have a homeless rate that is ever increasing. The Merchant’s Quay project and the enormous demand for food parcels at Christmas is just one indication, as is the number of unfortunates we see sleeping rough on our streets and in alleyways.


There is something about homelessness that strikes a very deep chord in each of us. It is perhaps the deepest fear residing in the innermost part of our being. Each time we see a homeless person there is something in us that says, ‘It could be me.’ Is it such fear that makes us want to turn a blind eye, and perhaps even walk to the other side of the street, when they see such an unfortunate’? Many will throw in a few coins that sometimes amounts to a way of alleviating their conscience, because this is what homelessness does, it should make us feel guilty. There are relatively few who will stop and engage in conversation with that person and it can be the few kind words that make all the difference. Most homeless will say that indifference and being treated as the flotsam and jetsam of society is their greatest suffering that far outweighs hunger and cold. Just being acknowledged as a human being, even where there is no money involved, can in their terms make a ‘bad’ into a ‘good’ day.

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