A Tipperary woman who has devoted her career to helping the homeless will be a key player in Minister Alan Kelly’s plan to provide accommodation for all the homeless in Dublin by Christmas.
And angel of mercy Alice Leahy believes that the double Tipperary input can play a vital role in the initiative’s success.
“In Tipperary we always give a very good lead. I am enormously proud of my roots and will do whatever I can to move this project along”, she said last Friday as she and other former Tipperary Persons of the Year were honoured in Thurles by the Tipperary Association Dublin.
Minister Kelly also attended the ceremony and was congratulated on his plan to house all the homeless in the capital within three weeks following the tragic death of Jonathan Corrie whose body was found not far from Leinster House last week.
Fethard woman Alice Leahy is the founder of TRUST which works on behalf of the homeless in Dublin and was one of the key figures invited by Minister Kelly to a forum last week where he outlined his plans.
“I left that meeting feeling that the Minister was listening and I think if anything is going to change, it will now”, she said.
However she doesn’t believe homelessness can end because there’s a difference between it and houselessness. And she added that it will be difficult for Minister Kelly to achieve his target by Christmas but that he has the support of every voluntary group involved.
Alice Leahy said Mr Corrie’s death attracted such attention because it occured so close to the Dail but there are tragedies every week.
“Homeless people die all the time, maybe not on the streets, but they are taken to hospital and die there. One man came into me last week who was sleeping on the streets, threw his arms around me, crying, saying his story was the same as Jonathan’s, that his children were looking for him and he didn’t know what to do”, she stated.
Dealing with such people in need has been her life’s work for decades. TRUST isn’t funded by the government and isn’t able to provide accommodation for the homeless.
But its track record is outstanding in caring for the needs of the homeless.
“It all goes back to our families, the environment we grew up in and the strong sense of community like I experienced in Fethard, with no class distinction and everyone working together.
“We need that in the Ireland of today and we have it in Tipperary. We are all in it together and we can give the lead”, she added.