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Helping the Vulnerable

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: For many people, Christmas is a time of celebration and goodwill. For people of the Christian faith, it is the most significant event on the religious calendar. However, there are many thousands of individuals who will not benefit from this celebratory mood. I am thinking, for example, of those who have no homes, those who are facing eviction, families that are trying to make ends meet on a pittance of income and heroic parents who are trying to shield their children against poverty and the disadvantages that go with it.  The only bulwark that one has in that case are the charitable organisations that prevent destitution and oblivion for these people. I am thinking of organisations like the Simon Community, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Merchant's Quay and so many other charities as well.

One must be inspired by the young people who take to the streets every night, seeking out people who have fallen off the radar of society, who bring human contact to them and help them with food and advice. It is the only glimmer of hope that is given to those people. It is particularly important for us here to listen to what the volunteers are telling us. I am sure that they have been in contact with all Senators. They are telling us of their experiences, difficulties, concerns and lack of resources. As legislators, we have a duty also. We appreciate that these organisations exist and without them we would have a very impoverished society. It is wrong to ignore the problems.

We can approach this matter without any party politics or partisanship. One can go out and see that people are still living rough on the streets at the height of winter. I am sure Senators feel like I feel and wonder how can people live like that. They are human beings that probably come from good families but something went wrong in their lives. Maybe they were disadvantaged or deprived. We do not know what their story is. This House is the best forum that we have. I am not talking about patronising but being proactive and helpful in this regard because I feel we are expecting too much. I marvel at the young people. These are educated people who have every opportunity in life yet they will not forget the most vulnerable and other members of society. Their actions enrich us all. 

An Nuacht Is Déanaí