Monday, August 29, 2011

Charity begs 'desperate' letter writer to call them

A VOLUNTEER with the  has been carrying two mobile phones this weekend.

One is his personal phone and the other is the handset for the emergency number that's given to people to contact the society looking for help. He's waiting on a call from someone who desperately needs his help but so far has not been in touch.

And the volunteer has not been able to get a contact number for him, even though he has appealed to a newspaper that printed a letter from the distressed man on Friday.

MP MacDomhnaill -- not thought to be his real name -- put pen to paper in desperation on Wednesday night and told of the plight of his family. He said he wished for sleep, his only release from the anxiety and pain the economic recession was wreaking on him and his family.

He told how he and his wife and their two young children were coping with a new torment -- hunger.

Mr MacDomhnaill revealed that on the day he wrote the letter all he had to give his children to eat was cereal and bread. The sole breadwinner in the family, he lost his part-time job in June and since then they have been supplementing their social welfare payment with savings that have now run dry.

He spoke of the pressure to maintain his mortgage payments, which took most of his income and left only the paltry sum of €252 per month. This had to stretch to everything else, including feeding a family of four and the utility bills. 

Mr MacDomhnaill gave his address as Caherslee in Tralee, a mature part of the town but one that attracted a lot of new families to the area during the height of the building boom when three new estates were built.

Caherslee is a good address and Mr MacDomhnaill's plight has shocked local residents, many of whom find it hard to believe that people are living in such distressed circumstances in their midst.

President of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Tralee, Christy Lynch, said he was "disturbed" by the contents of the letter and had been desperately trying to make contact with the man to ease his strain. 

"We're getting a share of people coming to us since Friday saying, 'Why don't you help this man?' We can't help him when we can't contact him," Mr Lynch told the Sunday Independent.

"I don't want it to go out there and for people to think that the St Vincent de Paul heard of a hard case and are doing nothing about it when that's not the case."

Like every other town, Tralee has taken its fair share of a hit in the current recession. There are 7,000 people unemployed from a total population of 25,000.

Some of its biggest employers include the Kerry Group, Institute of Technology Tralee, Kerry Local Authorities and Beru, one of the only factories left in the town.

The closure of Goblin Ireland and Amann Industries in recent years was a big blow to the town.

Locally, the letter in the newspaper has shocked and saddened people and there is a huge amount of genuine goodwill towards him in a town that still hasn't lost its heart.

"It's very upsetting that there's someone in our community who's in such a bad state and living in third world conditions," said Tralee mayor Grace O'Donnell.

"I was shocked to hear the circumstances of this man but I'd appeal to him to ask for help. We're able and very willing to help him."

Mr Lynch is still hoping that Mr MacDomhnaill will get in contact and he's appealing to anyone who knows his identity to encourage him to get in touch with the St Vincent de Paul in Friary Lane, which can be contacted in confidence at (066) 7120821 or (087) 7848825.