GAA players deserve immense credit for tackling homelessness

A rough sleeper outside Custom House in Dublin as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is due to present his first budget last month. ‘Gaelic Voices for Change’ recently came into being after the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children [ISPCC] claimed that Ireland has the highest rate of child homelessness in Europe and that Focus Ireland has reported a 24 per cent jump in homelessness in the south

"Anyways, I'll tell you one more thing I thought out; an' from a preacher it's the most unreligious thing, and I can't be a preacher no more because I thought it an' I believe it.

"I figgered about the Holy Sperit. I figgered, 'Why do we got to hang it on God or Jesus? Maybe,' I figgered, 'maybe it's all men an' all women we love; maybe that's the Holy Sperit - the human sperit - the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of.'

"Now I sat there thinkin' it, an' all of a suddent - I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it."

- Reverend Casey in conversation with Tom Joad from the 1939 acclaimed novel The Grapes of Wrath


CHRISTY Moore winced when Ryan Tubridy asked the Irish folk singer what bothers him about Ireland in 2017.

“The main topic at the moment is the poor, unfortunate homeless people who are out on the streets tonight and those who are in hotels and children growing up in hotels,” Christy said.

“I’ve stayed in some of those places and when you see kids playing out in the corridors of hotels, there’s something really sad about it. It’s heartbreaking.”

Have you noticed we hardly give each other the time of day these days?

I drove into a petrol station and there was nobody there. It was self-service.

My local supermarket is brimming with self-service tills.

The bank clerk keeps telling me to start using internet banking as he unthinkingly loosens his grip on his own job a little more.

And then there are the food banks.

Despite what the spin doctors say, the NHS is haemorrhaging.

I’m watching The Apprentice series on BBC1 and how it promotes the individual above everything else.

You need to be driven to win it - ruthless even.

Conor McGregor aspires to be a billionaire.

This is the ‘Me’ Generation.

I often wonder what my old ‘A’ Level Politics teacher – Phil McVicker – would think of the modern world.

The unashamedly left-leaning Phil had a brilliant mind.

The way he explained things, we all became disciples.

Phil blamed Maggie Thatcher for most things.

Well, that’s not exactly true. He blamed Maggie Thatcher for everything – particularly the erosion of community and the common good.

He also didn’t like people who walked along the street listening to their Walkmans, cutting themselves off from the world.

I doubt if Phil is part of today's Twitter generation.

Former Google employee, Tristan Harris - who founded ‘Time Well Spent’ - a project that “raises awareness about the intentional design to make consumer technology addictive” spoke on Newsnight and articulated the destructive nature of social media.

“We are developmentally harming an entire generation of children,” said Harris. “This is really a conversation about our humanity and whether or not the goals of technology are really aligned with that.”

Governments don't do the right thing any more.

The notion that people will be looked after from the 'cradle to the grave' seems terribly outmoded.

We live in desperate times.

People are dying, quite literally, on our streets.

That's why it was so heartening to see some of the GAA's top players get involved in trying to raise awareness of homelessness in Ireland.

Just this week two homeless people died in Dublin’s streets.

‘Gaelic Voices for Change’ recently came into being after the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children [ISPCC] claimed that Ireland has the highest rate of child homelessness in Europe and that Focus Ireland has reported a 24 per cent jump in homelessness in the south.

On December 16, over 150 top GAA players will ‘sleep out’ in solidarity with Ireland’s homeless.

Antrim and Glenavy footballer Patrick Gallagher has signed up for the initiative and will bring his sleeping bag into Belfast city centre on the night.

“The GAA is a community-based organisation,” Gallagher said.

“There are always initiatives running in the club about giving back…

“There are lots of things you can blame homelessness on. I think it’s maybe an inherent selfishness [in people] and I think there is a disconnection there, that people don’t mean to be selfish because life is so busy; they’re looking after their family, their friends and maybe don’t see others.

“There are great organisations out there – the Simon Community and the Peter McVerry Trust. People would maybe donate to an organisation and they think that’s them done, but there is someone sitting on the street who no-one talks to in the day.

“The support structures have to be in place but you also need that human connection, where you stop for a chat and have a cup of tea with a person.”

Patrick Gallagher is right of course.

The most generous thing you can give someone is your time.

Every player who plans to sleep rough on December 16 deserves much praise - and their act of kindness may re-awaken the charity in all of us.

Maybe Reverend Casey was right when he said we’re all part of one big soul.

‘Gaelic Voices for Change’ is leading the way.

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