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Opinion Dublin

Until Dublin Gets Serious About Ending Homelessness, It Can Never Call Itself A Truly Great City

We love this place – it's why we do what we do. But it has a serious problem.

Right here, on the pages of this website, we do our best to parade the virtues of what is – for the most part – a truly wonderful city.

There’s energy, there’s creativity, there are amazing individuals doing a lot with very little, and there’s a collective brilliance to the sum of all these efforts. When the sun shines, there really is nowhere we’d rather be – and even when the rain pours down on top of our heads, and we swear we just want to get the hell out of this godforsaken place, we don’t really mean it.

We say it every day, and we’ll say it again: Dublin is special.

But like so many special things in life, it’s also got a dark side; a side that holds it back from true greatness, and a black mark against its otherwise good name.

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The issue of homelessness isn’t news to us, or to you, or to anyone who’s going to read this piece. As with so many other problems, we’ve heard about it time and time again – so much so that we’ve been blinded by the scale of the bigger picture, and numbed by numbers.

Five thousand people sleeping rough? Do we even know what that means any more?

Like national debts that tower into the trillions, the figures becomes too massive to actually comprehend – and so all we can do is focus on single stories that represent something much, much bigger.

Columb Fogarty’s story, which he told in an article for Lovin Dublin today, is one such example.

It’s a story of being kicked down repeatedly, of trying desperately to stand up, and then being kicked down again. It’s a story of ruthlessness, a story of absent compassion and a story that is absolutely damning of this city, this country and this society.

It’s also a story that forms part of an ever-worsening situation, and gives a somewhat hollow feel to claims that Dublin is a truly great city.

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This week, Simon Communities Ireland called, sensibly, for a Housing Minister to be appointed as a full cabinet member in the next Government – and yet today, mere metres away from the shelter pod where Columb ‘lives’, the 32nd Dáil met and failed to even agree upon a Taoiseach.

Once again, this problem of burning urgency finds itself relegated down the to-do list; and if the sense of futility is gut-wrenching to those of us with beds to sleep in, just imagine what it must feel like to Columb, his partner, and the thousands of others with no place to call home.

Try telling them that ‘Dáil arithmetic’ is the reason that they’re sleeping in a wooden box, or their entire family is sharing a B&B room.

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So what do we need to do?

Well for starters, we need to keep this conversation going.

We need to keep talking about a Minister for Housing, so that when a Taoiseach is elected, the noise from the public and the media will be too loud to ignore.

We need to support the organisations who are constantly working to provide remedies to this situation on a daily basis – Focus Ireland, Dublin Simon, the Peter McVerry Trust, Gimme Shelter and more.

And most importantly, we need to constantly remember that the big numbers were hear are more than just numbers; they’re Columb’s story – in all its devastation and frustration – multiplied by 5,000, or more.

Last May, on a sunny day in Dublin Castle, we saw that change can happen, and that even the most seemingly unwinnable battles can result in victory. But it takes work, it takes persistence, and it takes a society that collectively gives a shit.

We love this city so, so much – and we're going to keep talking about the many amazing things that it has to offer.

But until Dublin gets serious about tackling this problem, it can never call itself a truly great city.

Photos by Fran Veale

Written By

Aidan Coughlan

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