Belfast born, Fr Peter McVerry, who along with Rugby star, Brian O’Driscoll, received the Freedom of the City of Dublin on Saturday 22 March 2014, was honoured for his unremitting work for the rights of Dublin’s young homeless people for over 40 years.
Dublin City Council praised Fr Peter’s immense respect for each individual he meets and his dedication in helping them overcome the immense personal challenges they face. His fellow conferee, Rugby star, Brian O’Driscoll, said, ‘what Peter McVerry does is life or death. He changes people’s lives”.
Fr Peter, in typical style, accepted the honour graciously but then threw out a challenge to all. “I’m very honoured by it,” he said, “and appreciate Dublin City Council who I’ve criticised so often in the past. And if it can highlight the issue of homelessness, then it’s a good thing” but in contrasting the Dublin of 40 years ago with now, he identified the loss of a sense of community as symptomatic of a loss of trust now endemic in Irish society, “In many ways Dublin has improved enormously – a lot of the slum housing has been eradicated – but in other ways it has disimproved. I think the sense of community has diminished..There is a much greater unwillingness to get to know your neighbours now. There is a fear that if your neighbour knows you are out at work all day, they might rob you. That lack of trust runs throughout society.”
Neighbourliness, kindness, conversation, dialogue build trust – it’s up to all to build trust in our communities.
Source: online Irish Independent accessed 23.3.2014