Threshold – the national housing organisation – has expressed its deep sorrow at the death of Fr. Donal O’Mahony, founder of Threshold, who died on Saturday.
Fr. O’Mahony, a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order, founded the organisation in 1978 after being appointed Chaplain to Dublin’s flat-dwellers by the Archbishop of Dublin. He established Threshold as a peace and justice project, focusing specifically on housing and homelessness.
Writing in 1982, he explained his understanding of what it meant to be ‘homeless’: “People may have an address and a door key, but if they lack privacy; if the accommodation lacks basic facilities; if rents are too high in relation to income and raised too often; if unsanitary conditions or overcrowding prevail; if a threat of eviction is the response to pursuing one’s rights… then it is only right to call such persons ‘homeless’.”
Commenting on his death, Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold, said: “We are very saddened at the passing of Fr. O’Mahony. He was a visionary, who was convinced that housing was a human right and that having a home means more than just having a roof over your head. His definition of homelessness was far ahead of its time, and continues to underpin the work of Threshold to this day.
“Over the past three decades, Threshold has continued the good work begun by Fr. O’Mahony. In later years, his work focused on peace-keeping, and he had an internationally acclaimed career in that area. But he left a hugely significant legacy for the housing sector in Ireland: Threshold continues to work to secure a right to
housing, particularly for households experiencing poverty and exclusion, and we help over 20,000 people with housing issues each year. Fr. O’Mahony’s vision of a more inclusive and just society – where everyone has a proper home – still informs our work today.”
In recent years, Fr. O’Mahony was International Director of the Damietta Peace Initiative in South Africa, a project he founded to promote peace and a non-violent culture throughout the African continent. Over the course of his career, he served as a mediator in a number of high-profile international kidnapping cases, all of which
were resolved successfully. He also worked in Northern Ireland during the 1980s, engaging with paramilitaries on both sides to promote and facilitate dialogue as an alternative to violence. In 2008, his contribution to peacemaking was marked with a Peace Award from the Interfaith Foundation of South Africa.
Threshold was founded in 1978 and is a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to secure a right to housing, particularly for households experiencing the problems of poverty and exclusion. Its main concentration of work is within the rented sector. The organisation operates a national office, based in Dublin, and three regional offices.
Further information is available at www.threshold.ie.
Reposing at the Holy Trinity Church, Cork, today (Monday, 16th August 2010); removal prayers at 6pm. Concelebrated Requiem Mass at the Holy Trinity Church on Tuesday, 17th August, at 12 noon. Funeral afterwards to the Capuchin Cemetery, Rochestown, Cork. Family flowers only.