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Opinion: Soup kitchen headlines don't tell the whole story

Story by Tom Kelly

Thursday, 8th November, 2012 11:42am

Opinion: Soup kitchen headlines don't tell the whole story


The opening of a new soup kitchen in Athlone has sparked national and international media headlines.

There is no doubt that there is a need for services such as this in Athlone, like in many other towns.

And it is our hope that the people who require support and assistance avail of the facility.

Many of the 'new poor' are people with jobs, but who are burdened down by huge mortgage payments, crippling utility bills and rising taxes and consumer charges.

Many such people may be embarrassed or fearful of using the services of a soup kitchen and it is to be hoped that they will use the Twist Free Food service on Sean Costello Street.

However, the publicity engendered by the opening of the facility has given the impression that Athlone is a particular blackspot.

The reality is that Athlone is no worse nor no better than any other similar-sized town in the country when it comes to issues such as poverty, homelessness, food shortages and so on.

This is not to attempt to bury significant social issues or to brush the reality under the carpet.

This paper first broke the story that a soup kitchen was to be established in the town some weeks ago. We also highlighted the establishment of Athlone's first pawn shop in modern memory.

However, the comments by the man behind the service that his decision to locate his second soup kitchen in Athlone was based on the town's location shows that the population of the town has no greater need for a soup kitchen than anywhere else, though that need may indeed be great.

One of the most important things is to exercise your right to vote

Voting of one sort or another is dominating headlines this week. The presidential election in the United States takes more than its fair share of the news but, in fairness, it is interesting and what happens in America is important to the rest of the world.

The people of Ireland are also being asking to vote this week, on a referendum to change the constitution of this country in the area of rights for children. That is a much lower profile event than the US election, but for the people of this country, it is just as important.

If we're honest, we'll admit that the issues for the Children's Rights referendum are complicated and we do not seek to recommend which way our readers should vote, but we think it is vital that you do vote.

If you would like to read about the issues, you will find plenty of information in this edition, with opinion pieces from Fergus Finlay of the Yes for Children campaign, from a retired HSE child care manager and from an Athlone man who is involved in the no campaign. It is, of course, your decision. But one of the most important things is to exercise your right to vote.

Rosemount Foróige

Meanwhile, the young people of Rosemount Foróige deserve congratulations for their success in the permanent tsb Foróige Youth Citizenship Awards.

They won the overall title on Sunday for their project Farmóige.

The group of nine young people had put in almost a year of work on their project, which aims to raise awareness of safety on farms and help families address the issue.

On Sunday, in a programme screened on TV3, they received the overall award as back at home in Rosemount some 200 families, friends and other supporters gathered in the community hall to cheer them on. Congratulations and continued success to the Rosemount Foróige group - we look forward to seeing what's next for you.

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