Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Begging.

I've got the stop listening to Newstalk, but I digress. There's a big balooa going on about begging, and from what I can make out it there is talk about it being recriminalized.
Now I'm in two minds about begging. There are obviously people who are genuine cases. Many years ago there used to be an old man who stood on O'Connell bridge in the mornings who I gave a couple of quid to every morning. He was old, he wore a cap and he said, 'bless ye mam' despite the fact that I was only 20 at the time. Then there was a poor old devil who used to sleep in a doorway down the road from where I used to live. I gave him a duvet one night when it was snowing. Poor old bugger, I don't think he even saw who did it and to this day I feel sure that he would have frozen to death if I hadn't noticed him on the way home.
Now neither act was a big deal, a few quid only a few quid and an old duvet you're not using is also just that. Nothing to write home about. They were two acts that helped ease my own sense of guilt, so they were not totally altruisitic, much as I like to think they are.
However I cannot help but notice an increase in aggressive begging and it is this that seems to be getting on the public nerve. You can't go to a cash machine anywhere in the city centre without someone sitting underneath with their hand out. Then there are the chuggers, charity muggers, who yell, block your path and follow their targets a few steps.
A few weeks ago there were a group of men begging on Georges Street collecting for a some drug centre or other. A good cause no doubt, but they were unreal in their pushiness, catcalling, demanding people 'cough up', trying to shame people into stopping, even going so far as to call after folk who did not stop.
Then you have the professional beggers, women with babies who approach you and cry in a sing song fashion. It seems to be mostly foreign women who operate in this fashion.
Then there are the kids who are dropped off in the morning and left to beg on the ha'penny bridge and Westmorland street. These are young kids, maybe as young as six, who sit in all weathers before being picked up later that evening.
Well, what's to be done? Are all these people in desperate need or are they scam artists? Is it right to make begging a crime? Can we make it a crime without offering an alternative? Can we be sure that we come down on the scammers without hammering the poor and the needy with the same blow?
Opinions?

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26 Comments:

Blogger Conan Drumm said...

That PD ex-politician Helen Keogh is on the radio begging every day. Can she be stopped, please.

Outlawing begging is like messing around with crime figures and the 'live register' statistics. It's a way of pretending poverty does not exist. We've come to a sad state if we'd prefer to legislate the problem under the carpet rather than actually expend the energy on helping people who do beg.

11:10 a.m.  
Blogger Twenty Major said...

I say kill them all. It's the only way to be sure.

11:13 a.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

But Twenty, you know well that the "kill them all" brigade always start with the writers and artists. Remember Göring's mantra.

11:25 a.m.  
Anonymous bendersbetterbrother said...

I'd agree with Twenty on the Romanian wailer women. Whilst not nearly as bad as Dublin it's got a lot worse up here too and almost 100% Romanians in charge of the cups. The Poles, Latvians, Nigerians, Filipinos, Portuguese can all find their way to working for a living, even in the lowliest of jobs.
As for the kids, surely Social services should be interested in their plight.

The aggressive charity collectors should be tied to the Romanian women or punched in the windpipe.

11:39 a.m.  
Anonymous nonny said...

Damn right it is. There is always an alternative to begging, like getting a fucking job. Focus Ireland and the likes assist these people, sure if they went down to county council they will give you emergency accommodation, then they could get a job. Go into town at the weekend and your bombarded with the horrid little fuckers at least the foreign fuckers put some sort of effort in so you get something for your money grant it that may be simply selling roses with free g-strings or taking the whole family to that big junction on the Naas road and playing lets dodge the traffic at least that’s entertaining watching little five year old aboonahazzapeenapettallawn skippedy hop from the path of on coming traffic. I say drown them all. They are a drain on the economy.

11:40 a.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

I don't mind beggars provided they aren't too in my face. Someone in a doorway with a dog is OK, and women with heather usually walk away if you say no. Also people who make a bit of a show on the street, singing or whatever are OK. I hate charity muggers with a vengence - it's a kind of blackmail. I prefer to choose my own charity, and I don't want discussions about it with chuggers. I hate people accosting me on the street as I sometimes just want to talk to nobody and it's an invasion of my space. I also hate the door to door collectors and sellers of dusters etc. My home is my sanctuary and they can all fuck right off! I'm beginning to sound like Greta Garbo!

12:21 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I always feel a bit sorry for the kids and never understood how it was that the parents got away with doing that to them.

1:19 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spin 103 are talking about this at this very moment

1:23 p.m.  
Anonymous Primal Sneeze said...

I always feel a bit sorry for the kids and ... parents got away with doing that to them.

It beggars belief.

But seriously, FMC, I agree, it's those parents and the scam artists (chuggers included) that should be the targets, not the genuinely needy.

1:40 p.m.  
Anonymous Return of the Mac said...

Agree with what you've said - it's a hard call, but at the end of the day criminalising it will not stop it so there is little point.

If it stops anything it will be the the old man with the cap etc that you mention above. The pushy skobies that come up to you asking for a "euro for a hostel for the night" will not be deterred.

I'll usually argue in favour not criminalising something over doing so (y'know free country, they're free to beg and we're free to give or not etc) but it does have negative effect on the city and peoples daily lives when you every time you go to an ATM you're almost harassed - so like I say, hard call!

PS - long time reader, first time commenter (I feel like I am the radio now) - love the blog FMC keep it up!

2:01 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Making it illegal will not deter anyone from doing it. Here in Toronto last month a guy was stabbed to death by 4 people who were aggressively begging. This isn't an easy issue for me. I do like the plan in cities like Seattle where you can buy some tokens so that the needy can purchase food and such at designated places instead of just handing over cash. Every city has a moral responsibility to help the needy. But I also resent being targeted by people who then brag to the press about how they make 30 or 40 dollars an hour begging.

2:37 p.m.  
Anonymous Nonny said...

I find this whole thing very annoying why would you beg? Why can’t they get jobs? If they do fall off the wagon why can’t they go to their local community officer, get temporary accommodation, use social welfare for exactly what it is intended for, a temporary crutch until they find their feet i.e. do a FAS course, see a councillor (which are free), get advice from Focus Ireland, go back to college, learn to read or whatever it bloody well is that they feel they need but above all stand on their own two feet and get fucking well on with it. What makes their plight harder than ours? I’m sure we have all hit some point in our lives where we thought we weren’t gonna make the rent/mortgage did we go out and beg? No we got off or arses and did something about it. There are no victims in this world only volunteers.

2:59 p.m.  
Blogger Rusticissimus maximus said...

I'm from the country (God it almost sounds like an excuse!) so the cup beggers and the chuggers don't phase me, they annoy but don't phase. This is because we have a more serious begging problem in rural Ireland. The fucking GAA.

It doesn't matter if no one in your house can even spell GAA, they will turn up guarenteed at some point throughout the year with tickets or raffle cards or something! It particularly doesn't matter if they KNOW that ye're not a GAA family as you're expected to support 'the lads' as if it's some kind of higher cause that'll save us all in the end.

We get harassed by our local GAA branch, the parish branch and usually the one from the nearest town as well; the latter is always told to get bent. The craziest episode however was last winter when two guys from Union Hall GAA club arrived collecting money for a new pitch. Now, Union Hall is a VERY long way from my house but these guys had no shame whatsoever in putting their hands out, even when I told them I wasn't interested.

At least in the cities you can walk away from these people, in the country you're already AT home, there's no such luxury.

3:37 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I think some people are victims. They're victims of a poor upbringing, of poverty and abuse and violence. I think they can fall through the crack of society very easily and I think it is incumbent on us to lend a charitable hand now and again, see if maybe we can make a difference.
I also think some folk like to abuse charity, and use it as a source of income. And then I think, like Nonny, some people should just go get jobs.
I agree with Shebah, the chuggers are too much and it is up to the individual who we support, and being press ganged or bothered isn't going to make up want to contribute.
I like Age Action Ireland as a charity, but then I've got a soft spot for oldies. Alway have had since Gamma.

3:54 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Oh and hello there new person ROTM, welcome aboard.

4:10 p.m.  
Anonymous Nonny said...

Just to point out I am not a heartless bitch. I do a lickle bit of voluntary work for an associate organisation of Alone, it doesn’t really use up much time an hour or so here and there. Last night was my night to go visit one of me aul pals but my inability to sit behind the wheel again coupled with severe whiplash prevented me. Now they are the people I feel really sorry for the ones who worked damn hard to raise and support their families through times we’ll never know anything about and now they are just left by themselves. I don’t buy the homeless thing regardless of who they are.

4:22 p.m.  
Blogger tapsi said...

I don't know how it is in Ireland, but in Hungary, and I suppose in most surrounding countries, begging is closely tied with organised crime. The wailer women type beggars and the begging kids don't usually act on their own, but work a lot like prostitutes, only they're exploiting a different kind of instinct. And a lot of their kids don't see it as "plight", but as fun (fooling the dumb people who work) or as the only way of living they know.

5:07 p.m.  
Anonymous Green Ink said...

Can we make it a crime without offering an alternative?
An alternative to what though? If many beggars are scammers then they're not in any great need are they?
Chuggers need to have their standing orders shoved up their asses. They don't come near me any more. They know what I'm thinking.

The best idea is to adopt the beggar as the unit of currency then they'd go round collecting each other and hey presto, beggar-free streets.

5:17 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

tapsi, in Barcelona where I used to live it was like that, begging very highly organised and linked to large crime organisations. The wailing women were on every train and metro and they worked them to perfection. They were also unbelievable thieves and would take anything you left on a table-covering the action with a freesheet newspaper, while they shoved their children in your face. It was unreal.
Ireland has not reached that level yet, but I can see where it might be heading.

5:20 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Evening Green Ink, I don't have any answers, I was just throwing it out there. I was thinking by and large of the genuine cases. If we make it a crime for the truly hard up to beg what-it anything- can be done to provide them with an alternative?
Chuggers are truly a much despised bunch. One of my friends was practically molested by one guy, a big tall lank who was working the street by Brown Thomas. Because she came out of a 'posh store' he gave her such a hard time and followed her all the way down to the end of Grafton Street. He actually grabbed her arm at one point. Nuts.
She was too much of lady to tell him to fuck off, but she was a bit shook up by it.

5:26 p.m.  
Anonymous Pinkie said...

I DESPISE the women and kid routine. I was sitting on the steps of a building at Stephen's Green the other day enjoying a few tasty strawberries in teh sunshine when this foreign woman came ambling along and shoved her grubby hand in my face and whined a little. Then turned to my co-worker and did the same. We both ignored her as if she was not there but DAMN it irked me!

Then her little toe-rag ... er child, came trundling after her. She was about 8 I would say and she stuck her hand in our faces too and my co-worker swooshed his hand and told her 'no' several times before she stepped down and then pointed to the strawberries and said 'Can I have some of them?' whilst reaching in a hand to take the punnet!

GAAAAAAAAH!

The guys sitting in doorways and stuff I can tolerate. I dont have a feeling of guilt, that is for certain, and if I have a few bob in my pocket I'll pop it into their cup -- it is the in your face, majoritly foreign, woman-and-child routine that really gets up my nose! The audacity of it just makes me fume.

Outlawing it would at least stop most of that -- the homeless fellas looking for a shilling doesnt get to me. They have a bit of dignity about it - yes dignity when they are homeless etc - and I can respect that somewhat. Just dont EXPECT me to hand over what I have earned.
And I've to work bloody hard for it too.

1:05 a.m.  
Blogger Caro said...

I had a standing order with Concern for years. When I was home last month I was accosted by three Concern chuggers in the space of ten minutes. I've since cancelled it - if they're going to spend all their money on having aggressive students hassle people, I'd rather give it to someone else.

9:04 a.m.  
Anonymous AM in Belgium said...

Just a little comment on generalisations. There are Romanians and then there are Romanians.

I'm sure you all know this, but the Romanians begging and wailing on the streets are gypsies. You will rarely, if ever, see a "normal - for want of a better word" Romanian begging - these are hard working people.

But to paint all Romanians with the same brush would be the same as calling all Irish people thieving knackers.

9:13 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Oh I know AM, and I don't think anyone was doing that. It's like when there are crazy english stag parties over here, we don't think everyone from England is drunk and wearing glitter horns.
Same way as I hope folk from other countries don't think we sing ole ole ole ole and wear green leprechan hats daily.

10:02 a.m.  
Anonymous eoin said...

I can't see what harm beggers do to be honest. All you have to do is say no. I'd agree wholeheartedly that agressive begging should not be tolerated just like any other form of anti-social behaviour, but the vast majority of the time you see a beggar they'll just be slumped on the ground, staring into space. And is begging not illegal anyway? I often see guards moving people along from ATMs.

11:31 p.m.  
Anonymous Ed Benton said...

Many people who beg don't want to be helped, they want to make money.

St Vincent De Paul have approached Romanian beggars and offered food, clothing and other non monetary assistance and were turned away outright, with pride and arrogance.

They see this as "professional begging" they see it as their day job and they don't need or want help.

Make this illegal and stamp it out.

4:19 p.m.  

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