Out on The Streets in Ireland

Tom Golden has an article on A Voice For Men, called “Is homelessness a men’s  issue?

It is an excellent article highlighting not just the fact that the majority of homeless are men but also exploring the myriad causes of male homelessness and how a snowball effect happens in many cases which propels men into homelessness

“Some folks are starting to understand that there may be some powerful underlying aspects to homelessness that most are simply not seeing. The sad fact is that most every homeless man may have started out his slide into homelessness with a huge trauma like divorce, death, illness, loss of job and probably more than one of these or others all rolled up into one big plate of stink.

These trauma overload the system of any person, but they are particularly hard for men. Why? Because no one wants to hear his pain, and no one wants to hear his story. When people see a man in pain they run, when they see a woman in pain they consider it a call for action. So men are left alone to deal with huge amounts of pain. Often they find ways to move through it and sometimes they end up paralyzed and homeless.”

Tom also points out how male homelessness, and in fact any issue to do with men’s pain is swept under the carpet. Deliberately.

“Not only are men the majority of the homeless, but homelessness is the dead end for so many other men’s issues. How many homeless men do you think have been raped by the family courts? How many homeless men do you think have been falsely accused? How many homeless men have been victims of domestic violence and ignored? How many homeless men have been severely depressed and overlooked.

The sad fact is that homelessness is the end of the road for many men after they have faced years upon years of misandry, people looking the other way, and no services available when they face hardship and discrimination. Nearly all of the issues we discuss and work to bring into public awareness find their dead end in the two male exit points: homelessness or suicide.”

The over-riding theme is, that when it comes to “men’s issues” in particular male homelessness, the default position seems to be that it “must be his own fault” therefore very little by way of sympathy, compassion or more importantly, services are available to these men.  Can you even imagine in this gynocentric culture such an attitude towards women who find themselves in “crisis” situations? No.  Of course you cannot. I’m not even going to bother putting up links to the innumerable services available to women. You know, and I know that they are there for the taking, in spite of the whining from feminists about the “lack of resources and funding for women’s issues

Men in trouble, men with “issues” are invisible, and are doubly invisible apparently, if they perchance find themselves in the public spotlight in connection with some other more, “worthy of compassion” creature. To what am I referring? I sense you asking in puzzlement. What “other creature” could demand more compassion than a homeless human being?

Answer. A rabbit. Yes, you read that right, a bunny rabbit called Barney. Go take a read of the article linked here, and pay special attention to the comments.

Have you read it? Good. Did you notice something about the comments? Almost all of them focus on the plight of poor Barney the bunny, rather than John the human being.

Let me just say this first, it was absolutely reprehensible what that “youth” did, a terrible thing to do to a poor defenseless animal, and he was rightly punished for it.

But. HELLO! Homeless human being here, homeless MAN here, in fact, a brave compassionate man who dived into the Liffey, (the river that wends its way through Dublin) to save another helpless creature.

Now, to be fair, his story did evoke a response, did result in recognition of not just his bravery and compassion, and did inspire many to make gestures of generosity and compassion towards John, the human being.

Within days he was given a Compassionate Citizen Award for going above and beyond the call of duty to help an animal in need.

His story touched the hearts of thousands of people nationwide, with many offering donations and food.”

But the comments from some of the people who did comment on this story? Unbelievable. For example. This poster quoting John Byrne the homeless man, had this to say.


{{ “I’ve always had animals on the street with me to keep me company and to keep me happy,” Byrne added. }} Hmmm..really? I suspect the main reason Mr Byrne has animals on the street with him while begging is that it increases his appeal to the sentimental, and gives him a higher income (over and above the one the state gives him). Nothing wrong with that, of course, it’s just good marketing – and certainly no reason to throw the poor rabbit in the river. But one would appreciate a bit of honesty about why it was with him in the first place.

5 Dec 2012 01:53



138 convictions? Lock this guy up!!! Poor bunny… that was SO cruel ;-/

1 May 11:53

Quite a few focused on the young man who actually threw the rabbit into the river, in particular in light of this revelation.

The court heard that Kearney was brought up in care, has 138 previous convictions and is already in detention at St Patrick’s Institution.”

St Pat’s as it is/was known in Dublin has a less than savoury history, as have many institutions that operated in Ireland, particularly those tasked with the “care” of young boys.

Am I condoning what Gary Kearney, the 20 yr old who threw John Byrnes rabbit Barney into the river did?  Absolutely not, but if you look past the superficial details of this story, if you ignore the carefully crafted hype around the plight of poor Barney, beneath the surface you will see several issues.

First and foremost, a homeless human being, John Byrne, was begging on O’Connell Bridge when Gary Kearney came along and threw his pet into the river.

Outside the court, Byrne, who has been living on the streets for 23 years, said he was in shock when he saw his pet swimming around in circles, looking up at him.”

Did you see that?  23 years living on the street, earlier in the article it states that Mr. Byrne is 37 years old – do the math – he was 14 years old when he became homeless. 14 years old! Now I’m only guessing here, but if Mr. Byrne had alcohol or substance abuse problems, it would’ve been mentioned, in a faux sympathetic way as “poor alcoholic man” but mentioned.  It wasn’t.

Regardless, think about the fact that this man became homeless at 14 years of age, a boy, a child, and here he is 23 years later still homeless, still living on the street!

Can you imagine any woman, whatever her “issues” substance abuse” or whatever would have been left “living on the streets” for 23 years? I certainly cannot.

Now before I continue, this linked article in the online Irish independent has slightly different details than the Huffington Post one, for example it states that Mr. Byrne has been living on the streets for 24 years rather than 23, though still cites his age as 37 years old. Also it does confirm these details.

The court heard the culprit Kearney was brought up in care, has 138 previous convictions and is already in detention at St Patrick’s Institution.”

Both articles confirm Gary Kearney is from Crumlin, a working class area on the south side of Dublin.

With regard to Gary Kearney, the young man convicted of animal cruelty, again absolutely condemn what he did, absolutely endorse his conviction. But, I do find myself wondering, taking into account the limited information given about this young man’s history, and in spite of his abhorrent actions, what detail is missing?

In fact, for what it’s worth, this young man’s history, brought up in care, incarcerated in St. Pats and growing up in a predominately “working class” area, acting in this cruel and reprehensible manner is almost inevitable, not excusable, not justifiable but, inevitable. In fact, after Gary Kearney serves his sentence and the remainder of whatever other sentences he has or receives, and if and when he is released, it is almost also inevitable that Gary Kearney himself will end up living on the same streets as John Byrne. If not inevitably then at least possibly.

Does this make me glad? Absolutely not, do I believe he “deserves” this? Again, absolutely not? Am I just being a “bleeding heart liberal”? Nope. All I am doing is hoping to raise some deeper issues, shed some light on some of the more complex factors that contribute to male homelessness, and perhaps to ask, are the seeds of those factors that lead to male homelessness planted in childhood? In the types of lives that some boys are forced to live? As well as the factors in adult men’s lives as outlined in Tom’s article on AVfM.

Whatever circumstances caused Gary Kearney to grow up “in care” in Ireland, and “in care” in an Irish context* doesn’t have a warm fuzzy connotation to it. Whatever dysfunctional life he was born into that set in motion the events that led up to his throwing poor Barney into the river, and may also have led to John Byrne finding himself homeless and on the streets at 13 or 14 years old, and still on those same streets 23/24 years later. Those factors need to be examined, addressed and as eloquently articulated by Tom Golden made part of the public debate on Men and Boys issues. in answer to Tom’s question “Is homelessness a men’s issue?” My answer is YES it is, but even more it is a Human Rights issue. Are men not Human Beings?

And yes, I am glad that Barney is safe and well and in the care of, what seems to me, a kind and compassionate man like John Byrne.


*There really is too much evidence, too many reports, to post links to the level and extent of child abuse perpetrated in Ireland, just type “child abuse in Ireland” into Google and you will get “About 21,500,000 results


© Anja Eriud 2013

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