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Bishop alarmed by level of alcohol consumption

By Sarah Mac Donald - 05 July, 2014

Vice-chair of Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative responds to call for the opening of pubs on Good Friday.

Bishp Eamonn WalshIreland’s relationship with alcohol is fast heading towards a national emergency Bishop Eamon Walsh has warned.

In a statement, the vice-chair of the Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative warned that it is “incumbent on politicians to support solutions to address this crisis.”

The auxiliary bishop of Dublin was responding to the forthcoming Private Member’s Bill, the Intoxicating Liquor (Amendment) Bill 2014, proposed by Sligo Fine Gael Senator Imelda Henry, which will pave the way for the opening of pubs on Good Friday in the Seanad shortly.

“It is a matter for the civil authorities to decide on the context and content of legislation, and this should serve the common good,” Bishop Walsh stated.

He said the sale of alcohol on Good Friday is an issue on which Christians can make up their own minds based on an informed conscience and on the content of proposed legislation.

He noted that people enjoy Christmas Day without pubs being open.

“Good Friday is a day when Christians of all denominations throughout the world take time to reflect on the Passion and death of Christ. On Good Friday, Catholics are asked to share in that sacrifice through the traditional practices of prayer, the veneration of the Cross and through fast and abstinence.”

“Many people in Ireland still join in these religious practices and enter into the spirit of Good Friday and Easter, which is the most important feast in the Christian calendar.”

Bishop Walsh also referred to the recent study by the Health Research Board which revealed that one-in-three people in the population is a harmful drinker and that 177,000 people are dependent on alcohol.

“The HRB’s findings concerning our young people were even more disturbing: three quarters of alcohol is consumed as binge-drinking and two thirds of people in the 18–24 age bracket binge drink,” the Bishop highlighted.

He said the Bishops’ Drugs Initiative, Alcohol Action Ireland and others would continue to work to arrest the mental and physical human suffering which is the outcome of these results.

The IBDI was established in 1997 as a Catholic Church response to the growing problem of drug/alcohol misuse in Ireland.

The IBDI seeks to mobilise parish communities, together with other service providers, to make appropriate pastoral responses to prevent alcohol and drug misuse, and to respond to issues arising from the problematic use of alcohol and other drugs.

The core values of the IBDI are founded on our Christian ethos and Catholic faith, along with the underlying principles of: respect, equality, partnership, pastoral care, professionalism and accountability.

The IBDI works alongside clergy, pastoral councils or interested parties in parishes in assessing the gap and needs of the parish in relation to drug and alcohol problems.

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