F2 Centre, Fatima, Rialto, Dublin 8.
The inaugural Danielle Carroll Summer School.
The event, named after a young homeless mother who took her own life while in emergency accommodation, was organised by Fionnuala Killeen and Michael Caul and held in response to the MacGill gender balance controversy.
We would like to thank Danielle Carroll’s family for attending a day held in tribute to a beautiful young mother of two.
It was a very emotional day and had a huge impact on those in attendance and the hundreds of people who watched the live stream. The #Day4Danielle hashtag was trending on twitter from early on in the day, showing a huge interest in the issue.
I felt the day was so powerful and actually captured the zeitgeist amongst a lot of mobilised and energised women who have had enough.
The panellists were all experts in their field with a lot of combined experience of frontline services, media and many have set up organisations and campaigns in light of a failure of a government policy or inaction in an issue.
The aim of the day was to question the many gaps in various services for women and to ask “What is killing women?” following an article by Kitty Holland, Social Affairs correspondent with The Irish Times, one of the most socially conscious journalists in the state.
Caroline Carroll, Danielle’s sister, spoke eloquently about Danielle’s experiences of homelessness and her heartbreak as the offer of a bungalow was rescinded without explanation.
Caroline mentioned that Danielle had begged South Dublin County Council for help and advised them she had struggles with her mental health.
Caroline read out a letter that Danielle had written to SDCC and the audience felt privileged to hear, in Danielle’s own words, what she was going through at that time.
It was clear from hearing this letter read out that Danielle urgently needed and had requested more support services and was very isolated from her family for a period of months.
It questions where are the support workers that are supposed to be assigned to assist families experiencing homelessness.
Senator Lynn Ruane spoke and highlighted that barriers should be removed from women trying to progress from a position of poverty and women should be championed to progress and not after they have achieved.
Women’s liberty is being limited by the state and, whether choice really looks the same for everybody, we are blaming individuals for the circumstances that they are either born into or find themselves in and that poverty is the most coercive of them all.
Kitty Holland led a panel discussion from experts who have experience of dealing with women in crisis; the speakers were Tara Deacy, Laoise Neylon, Claire O’Connor, Linda Hayden and a summation from Senator Ruane.
The clear feeling among these women is that the individual is being blamed for being in a crisis whilst asking for help and that women are effectively being gaslighted by the state.
This has to stop and we must keep hearing women’s stories and questioning the situation where survival is the lowest bar.
A huge problem is the individualisation of social problems e.g. – if Danielle had to get two buses to bring her child to school and would be late – that was her problem. Where she had no access to washing or cooking facilities – that was her problem.
Negative self reflection is compounded when in a crisis situation and the State is complicit in perpetuating the cycle of blame.
The State needs to supply wrap around support services and invest in services for women and children.
The State is in denial that they are failing families and the economy is not improving for the majority of Irish citizens, even in households where two adults are getting up early in the morning and working. Families are struggling to keep their heads above water.
Women are drowning in the struggle to survive on their own without any support services.
Campaigners Bernadette Grogan (Repeal), Maeve O’Rourke (Magdalen Women) and Gillian Hammil (#MyNameIs) gave powerful speeches about their respective campaigns which many people are aware of and were set up as a result of discontent with the performance of the Government to date.
In the afternoon, Gemma O’ Doherty, investigative journalist, delivered her keynote speech on corruption in the media asking that they highlight the real stories about what is going on in our society.
If the message is not going out there, the illusion of the State doing well is perpetuated. Where media ownership is an issue, that balance may never be addressed. We have to seek new ways to get the stories out there.
Anne-Marie McNally, Political Director for the Social Democrats, spoke about “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it” where there is limited voices and representation from working class people in the mainstream media. If one of these voices appears on radio or TV panels, it is almost a novelty.
Anne-Marie then chaired the panel on media diversity with participation from Lois Kaplin, Olga Cronin, Kitty Holland, Niamh McDonald.
Seeking a wider representation from the media of the realities of life for most Irish people, and to seek to dispel the myth that the recovery is booming for everybody and the Government are failing in their policies and their ideology, the school concluded:
Why are we seeing that this is a systemic structural problem?
Why is it not possible to access opportunity equally?
The system is creating marginalisation by the way support systems are set up.
You have to give up your liberty and self respect to ask for help.
Our expectations are so low that we are happy to survive a crisis as we are so used to accepting the bare minimum in services for women and children.
The most economically disenfranchised are those that pay the highest price – emotionally, with their time, families, money, quality of life and the associated anxieties that come from that.
The media needs to show the real state of services in Ireland today and that they are failing families.
There will be a cost to pay in years to come and this needs to be addressed now.
We cannot remain complicit in the State cover-up of failure in it’s ideology
Geoff’s poem asked: ‘How does Leo sleep at night?’
We’d all like to know.
The heart-breaking last letter written by Danielle Carroll to South Dublin County Council read by her sister Caroline yesterday at the #Day4Danielle Summer School. Within three weeks, Danielle would be dead. #marian #MyNameis #not1home #tonight pic.twitter.com/la6M7WUSPf
— Danielle Carroll Summer School 2018 (@DanSummerSch18) July 22, 2018