The report in Tuesday’s Journal on a young man convicted for drinking cider in the street filled me with anger and disgust. This case underlines a number of hopeless failures in our society.
Since when did jail become a suitable place for anyone who has been diagnosed as mentally ill, but with no record of violence? Such a person needs to be helped, not treated like a common criminal. The inability to deal with such a case properly is an example of the totally inadequate provision for the mentally ill in the Foyle area, and elsewhere, of course.
I can think of many worse crimes than street drinking. This takes us to another serious and not unrelated problem: cheap alcohol, sale of alcohol without restriction, and the cost of alcohol related problems to the health and social services. Surely a special tax on the alcohol industry is called for.
The young man in question had been kept in custody for a month since he was homeless. And this in a country with an abundance of empty and unfinished houses. He will go back to prison till the Methodist Mission finds a place for him. Thank God there is still some genuine Christianity in holy Ireland. This form was introduced by an Englishman, of course.
This case is only one example of the social havoc around us. And this is against a background of cutbacks in social services, increasing unemployment, wage freezes, wage cuts etc. Some things are still affordable, of course – like guided missiles at £1 million each, deployed to ‘protect innocent civilians in Libya’. Meanwhile her Majesty’s Government fails to make any inroads on social deprivation and deplorable living standards back home.
The catastrophic failure of a social system based on artificial needs, speculation and greed is to be paid for by ordinary people who did not cause the shambles, but who find their decency rewarded by a fall in living standards as they work longer for less money before a dreaded retirement on a reduced pension.
t is crisis time: unless politicians can increase social provision and inject some honesty, justice and charity into the system, a complete breakdown of society is inevitable.
‘Pro Bono Publico’