|Megan O'Leary works with the Family Support Network. The Network was formed in 2000 and consists of representatives of family support groups, individual family members and those working directly with families of drug users from right across the island of Ireland. Family Support Network at 175 North Strand Road, Dublin|
What does social justice mean to you?
Social justice to me means using a rights based approach in all aspects of social policy. It means countering the individualism so prevalent in Irish society today and ensuring greater income re-distribution. Social solidarity that is so evident in many communities needs to be nurtured by the Irish government and key decision makers.
What do you regard as the major problems/inadequate provision for families overcoming drug dependency of a relative, and their striving to live safely in their communities?
There are a multiple issues for families coping with drug use. The stigma associated with drug use often impedes families from seeking support, the multi-faceted approach to service delivery can often cause confusion for families when they do seek support and a top-down approach often means that those closest to the drug user are not considered by services. The families and communities most affected by drug use are not viewed or utilised as a resource by many organisation s and decision makers. Specific issues for families include drug related deaths, funeral expenses, intimidation, guardianship and sibling support.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
I most admire my dad for his constant positivity and belief in people.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My greatest extravagance is probably Christmas every year. I am prone to going completely overboard.
Do you have any bad habits?
I have a tendency to lose things a lot, in particular my car keys.
How do you unwind?
I watch a dvd with a bowl of microwave popcorn, chipsticks and can of coke. All very unhealthy but delicious.
When are you happiest?
When I am spending time with my friends and family.
Where were you on holidays last?
I went to Toronto last August to stay with my uncle for a few weeks. If my family was not based in Dublin I would love to live in Canada.
What qualities do you most value in people?
I most value loyalty and honesty in people. I’m lucky with the friends I have as they have these qualities in abundance.
What talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be fluent in a number of languages including Irish.
What is your earliest memory?
I remember insisting that my mum buy me a small brown suitcase for my first day of school. She obviously knew it wasn’t going to be what all the other kids had but I loved it.
What is your most treasured possession?
A wooden jewellery box I was given for my first communion from Lily, the woman who looked after me while my parents worked.
What books or films have inspired you?
Random Family by Adrian Nicole Le Blanc is an inspiring book. It examines the story of two women’s lives in the Bronx. Le Blanc, a journalist originally intended to spend a short period of time in the Bronx researching an article and ended up spending ten years following these women’s stories.
What other career/line of work might you have chosen?
Journalism would have been my second choice as a career. I completed work experience in transition year with the Irish Times. It was a great programme and definitely gave me an insight into just how tough it is to be a journalist.