A few more remarks on begging in Ireland

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In search for response to Christophe's comments on begging, over the past few days I came across two stories in the morning newspapers.

But in the meantime I just want to mention that of course, Christophe, when speaking of freedom I meant to say that our independence and the EU expansion opened the gate and we flooded through them driven by economic necessity and selfishness, yet we chose to work rather than to beg, even when a few years ago we were working illegally, without work permits, often for less than the minimum wage, but we worked, we were not begging (!). And I think I've written enough in my blog about Irish in order for you not to get the impression that I call all Irish street people. God forbid!

According to the recent stories, child begging is up by 30 percent in Ireland and according to some officials, the hike was due to both a change in legislation making it no longer illegal for adults to beg and the growing numbers of Roma in Ireland. This story only heralds my previous post in some way, yet I don't have the answer with a possible solution for this dilema.

Also I discovered that accordng to Dublin Simon Community, about a quarter of Dublin's homeless population suffer from serious mental illness and this is the question of the chicken and the egg: was it mental illness that drove them to the streets or are the streets to be blamed for their mental condition? Either way this should be tackled, but a penny or even a shiny euro jingleing into the empty "Starbucks" cup won't solve the problem.

Come ye who thirsty or starve or are simply lazy and the Celtic Tiger will embrace you all.

This Post has 3 Comments Add your own!
richardlith - December 14, 2007 at 10:29 AM

I too want to take issue with your theme of laziness in relation to begging.

You started to hit the nail on the head when you asked the Simon community about mental problems.

The fact is that homelessness and begging is caused by a wide spectrum of compelex reasons, reflecting social problems in the modern world.

You make the point that the beggars have arms and legs, but the thing is that mental illness is widespread, and what in my opintion many homeless people really need in the first place in psychiatric treatment.

I know for a fact that in Lithuania equivalent people are in the psychiatric hospitals (the ¨psychushkis,¨ often on the edge of town or in the countryside so that people can forget about them. I actually believe that dominant use of residential care for the mentally ill is good, and it certaily keeps them off the streets. However, it does not hide the problem of providing good mental health services.

If as a journalist you want to dig deeper into this issue in Ireland, I suggest you investigate the closure of residential psychiatric units (ie mental hospitlas) in the UK and Ireland, as part of the adoption of ¨care in the community.¨ This has meant that there are fewer hospital places for the mentally ill. WArds and indeed whole psychiatric hospitals have been closed. (Yes, they close hospitals in Ireland, something they never do in Lithuania.)

This has meant that more mentally ill people, drug addicts, or even those termed as having ¨chaotic lifestyle¨ are now on the streets.

What they need is not criticism for being lazy, but treatment and support.

Most of this in Ireland is often carried out by charities such as the Simon community.

I suggest you will find a fuller picture of the issues your are flirting with by becoming a volunteer helper at the Simon community or other homeless charity. There is a greater need for them at Chritstmas and New Year.

You will find out a lot and you may question your current attitudes.

Christophe - December 15, 2007 at 12:44 AM

I don't think Lina is really judging anyone, she's just putting across her initial impressions which may or may not be well founded.

I certainly subscribe a great deal to what you are saying richard, in fact, I had a very similar conversation *across the water*, with regard to the whole idea of begging, the marginalised in society, etc.

To me, bigger questions, keep coming back.

Yes, I don't beg. I work.

But what do you work at?

Is it socially useful in any real sense?

The reality is that the system propagates both the drudge, the uncomplaining majority who take to the steets and offices each day to give the illusion of productivity, take home their pay and continue the consumption cycle whilst the profits are expropriated.

It also propagates, the fallen, both those who chose that life as a part time job, those who are driven to it by family, drugs, other social issues and mental illness.

My big problem with Lina's original post is that it entered no caveat for any of the really destructive reasons why people are on the streets. And that's ok, when you understand what she was actually talking about.

But it's important to understand that there are those who are truly homeless and those who have somehow voluntarily fallen into that life.

No more different than the chance of being born in sub-Saharan Africa for example.

Life is a grand lottery.

And isn't life grand...

Anonymous - October 5, 2010 at 10:08 AM

I am doing research for my university paper, thanks for your great points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

- Laura

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