Address given by Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of all Ireland
at the launch of Catholic Youth Care’s (CYC’s) report on suicide and young travellers.‘Moving Beyond Coping’
“I must be made of steel because my family has had a lot of tragedies”. This was the comment of one of the women interviewed in the study that we are here today to launch.
It sums up in many ways the suffering and the strength of the traveller community in Ireland, not just in the face of suicide as is the main theme of this study but in the challenge that the traveller community still has to face in Irish society.
The traveller community has had to face so many tragedies, heightened in our day as elements of their culture and the mores of the community are being undermined by new tests such as the presence of drugs.And yet there are many like that woman: traveller women made of steel who have the capacity to work though and cope and to move forward in the midst of all the troubles and the personal anguish that they encounter.
I am very pleased with the work that the Dublin Parish for Travellers has done over the years and I wish to express my gratitude to the Vincentian Fathers who have had the responsibility for the parish since its foundation. I am very happy to be able to confirm that it is my intention to continue and strengthen the work of this parish in the years to come under the direct auspices of the diocese and I am grateful to Father Derek Farrell who has agreed to take over the parish.Suicide is a challenge to society. Affluence has not removed anxiety from our society. Perhaps more than any other social challenge the fact of suicide, especially among young people, challenges us to face the question of meaning and hope. A society which prizes success is a hard place to endure failure. We need not just to value success but to carry the weak.
It also challenges us to look anew at solidarity. When we are faced with the reality of suicide we all tend to ask the question why. Why did it happen? But also why did we not notice?
The fact of suicide brings us back to the mystery of the individuality of each person and to that area in the other which is impenetrable. Each person is the guardian of the deepest secrets of his or her heart. No matter how close we are to someone, no matter how much we know of them, that area of impenetrability remains, and may indeed contain a level of anguish and anxiety, insecurity and fear that we never manage to identify or understand.
Suicide leaves us with our own doubts and our own questionings. But it also leaves us with the challenge of how we structure a society, a space of solidarity, which will render it easier for people to unburden themselves and feel able to share with someone what would otherwise remain impenetrable in an atmosphere of respect and support and love.
The manner in which the traveller community in Tallaght and Clondalkin took on and participated in the current survey is an indication of the great reservoir of human support and wealth there is in the community. I hope that the good work begin through Catholic Youth Care will continue now in the years to come.