Wednesday, 19th September 2018
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Rush to Criticism

There are not many people who at this stage have not heard about the Cash family and what happened to them. The mother and six of her children had to seek accommodation in the Tallaght Garda Station last week as they had absolutely nowhere to turn to. It led to an outcry as pictures of the young children sleeping on seats were posted to social media by the mother.

Understandably there were a lot of people who were saddened to see that in this day and age that a family had to resort to such measures to simply have somewhere to sleep for one night. Homeless Charities have said that while what had happened was a terrible thing, that it wasn't entirely unheard of, and that they knew of several families in the recent past that also had to resort to sleeping in Garda Stations.

It really shows the power of social media that this particular story reached so many people so fast. However there is another element to this particular story which also shows up how fickle social media and the people that use it can be.

Soon after the pictures on social media became known the family came in for a huge level of criticism. It turns out that quite a few people had objections to other information that was available on the mother's social media feed. They pointed out that there were photos of her daughter's first holy communion where the child was wearing a huge dress and that in some of the photos of the day there were images of a crate of beers. The explicit, sometimes implied, criticism was that what was the mother doing spending her money on what were considered 'frivolous' items when her family were in such a precarious position.

The level of criticism the mother said was 'horrible' and that the things she was being vilified for were not of much consequence and were saved up for over months. The fact remains that while the family were viewed as being innocent of homelessness they were viewed in an overwhelmingly positive light but the minute it was seen that they were in some way colluding in their homelessness public opinion changed.

As it stands the family are now in emergency accommodation but their long term status remains up in the air. However it is a pity that the family had to go through the criticism that they received.

There are many ways in which a person or a family can become homeless and it can happen to anyone and the whole thing is worryingly easy. While hindsight might be a wonderful thing it rarely if ever helps the homeless person or family in their predicament.

What needs to happen is a stop to this rush to judgement and a more rounded look at the root causes of homelessness and how those in that situation can be helped. This needs to happen promptly before more pictures of families like the Cash's have to spend nights in Garda Stations.

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