First - a declaration. I am married to the wonderful Roma who this year volunteered for the third year in a row for the Niall Mellon Township Trust building blitz. I have not done so myself. I don't know nor have never met Niall Mellon or Kevin Myers.
|Niall Mellon and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma.|
Image source: Niall Mellon Township Trust Flickr page.
I read Kevin Myers' article, "We're addicted to house building, but why indulge it in South Africa?" in yesterday's Irish Independent, and have come to the conclusion that he is talking through his arse. Myers rejects the idea that it is a good thing for hundreds of Irish people to go to South Africa and build houses for people who live in the township slums. Over 100,000 people have been housed by the NMTT, all who would still be living in cardboard huts if Myers had his way.
The NMTT is a charity which raises money through its volunteers, but Myers rubbishes this (and shows off his prose writing skills at the same time), when he thunders "Just about all the grisly, patronising pieties that have bedevilled Irish life down the years are embodied in the Niall Mellon Trust" because of Ireland's "frenzied addiction" to building. He wonders why Africans can't build houses themselves (they haven't got the money Kevin), insults President Zuma by referring to his penis (not much NM can do about this), curiously refers to the number of white farmers and their wives "butchered in their homes" (NM not responsible for this either), and the number of unemployed people in the RSA (again, not much NM can do about this).
Kevin Myers is a bitter and grumpy old man, who clearly gets annoyed when other people try to do some good. He clearly was stuck for something to rant about yesterday and thought why not have a go at Niall Mellon. Myers should read the Parable of the Good Samaritan and see if he recognises himself in either of the first two people to pass the beaten traveller.
Judging by the comments on the article, a lot of NMTT volunteers disagree with Myers as well, one writes "unlike most of you begrudgers in Ireland sitting on your back sides doing nothing Niall Mellon actually did something which has proved extremely successful". Well said!