herald

Monday 23 April 2018

Padraig O'Morain: Shame on us all for letting this happen

THIS cannot be happening – that's what I am tempted to say when I read the outrageous story of Rhoda Crosbie.

How can it be that a motherof- three has to give up her cancer treatment because she has nobody to look after her children?

How can it be that she and her children sleep in one bedroom and that her 15-year-old daughter can say she has never had a bedroom to herself?

How can it be that this family and others live in a rat-infested and sewage-infested building? How can such an abomination be tolerated in our sophisticated society?

How can it be that Dublin City Council does not regard her as a priority case?

Rhoda says she is deteriorating and feels like she is dying. She would do anything for her children, and that is why she says she can no longer afford time away from them for cancer treatment. Let's face it. Anybody who lived in her conditions would deteriorate and feel like they were dying, even if they didn't have cancer.

When you look at the age of her daughter you realise that she grew up during the Celtic Tiger era. I believe that to be a greater indictment of those who ran our affairs during that time than the financial meltdown with which we are all trying to cope.

It showed a willingness to ignore the needs of human beings at a time when we could have afforded to provide decent, basic conditions for all. Instead we have and have had families living in conditions worse than can be found in a prison.

We celebrated our independence, our coming of age, when Queen Elizabeth visited recently. Is this what our independence has brought us to? Is this it?

There is only one positive side to this story: her 17-year-old son has decided to leave Ireland and to try to make a new life in France. Naturally Rhoda finds it unbearable that this is happening.

But isn't he right and don't we wish him well? Yes, and yes – but it would be far better for us as a society and an electorate to demand that nothing like this ever happens again.

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