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Ireland: Bishops, we have the choice whether to “respect the dignity of all” or “to ignore this suffering”

The fact that in the last 12 weeks eight people have died sleeping rough in Ireland is “a collective failure of our society to protect the most vulnerable amongst us”. This is according to the Bishops of Ireland who released a statement at the end of their Plenary Assembly in Maynooth (5-6 December). The Bishops’ appeal is addressed to all people and in particular to “our policymakers, to recommit themselves to building a society that enables all people to live in a decent home”. The recently announced increases in both energy costs and public transport prices “will disproportionately affect the poor, the marginalised and the elderly in our society”, the Bishops warn. “It is an indignity to accept a version of Irish society in which a family lives in an overcrowded B&B, hostel or hotel room; a person sleeps in a wet shopfront in a city centre; or an older couple survive without the means to heat their home”. In an Ireland which “is approaching full employment”, we have the choice whether to “respect the dignity of all” or “to ignore this suffering”. The Bishops decry: “Homelessness, poor housing conditions and energy poverty are largely symptoms of political and economic choices. Something is structurally wrong with a society which allows such a negation of human dignity”.

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