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Keep Good Friday alcohol ban say Pioneers

By Ann Marie Foley - 02 April, 2015

Pioneers’ new President, James Shevlin

Pioneers’ new President, James Shevlin

The Pioneers’ new President, James Shevlin, has said the ban on the sale of alcoholic drink on Good Friday should remain in place.

“We feel that the Catholic and Christian ethos has been fundamental to Ireland for many years. Jesus is central to us and the Christian and Catholic churches, and Good Friday the most solemn day in the Christian and Catholic year, because it commemorates the death of Jesus himself,” he told Matt Cooper on Today FM radio station, in one of his first interviews as President of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association (PTAA).

“We feel that it is a great honour that legislators back years ago did acknowledge and recognise that and enshrine it in licensing law and we would very much be in favour of leaving it there. The licensing laws in Ireland are generous and liberal at the moment. As they are, alcoholic drink is available 364 days of 366 days a year on a leap year or 363 on an ordinary year,” he said.

James Shevlin will see in a new era for the Pioneers as the Jesuits withdraw from the organisation.

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Jesuits who provided us with so many wonderful priests to serve us in the PTAA,” he said.

“With this phased withdrawal of the Jesuits from the PTAA over the next three years, it opens up a whole new era for us Pioneers. It presents to us a massive challenge but also an outstanding opportunity to establish ourselves into a vibrant, active spiritual lay-led organisation and to bring into a new era the great vision and ideals of the founders and founder members of our great organisation.”

Pioneer Total Abstinence Association

Pioneer Total Abstinence Association

James Shelvin has also spoken about his hopes for the future of the Association.

“I am very passionate about the future growth and development of the Pioneer Association and have worked very hard at all levels to advance the interests and future of our association. I will work hard to help and encourage centres and regions to continue to function and make every effort and offer any help I can to revitalise some of the weaker or lapsed centres and regions,” he said.

He added that he is anxious to maintain the current membership and to try to regain former members. In particular, he wants to try to keep young people involved.

“(I want) to develop strategies to enrol and keep younger people as active Pioneers. I would like to get our National Youth Pioneers active and reaching out to our younger members and hope that our Under Age activities can be developed to provide a recreational dimension to the spirituality of our association,” he said.

He encourages all members to wear and display the Pioneer emblem, or pin as it is called, at every opportunity.

James Shevlin is from Glinsk in Co Galway very close to the Roscommon border. He is a retired primary school teacher and former principal and deputy principal. Married to Carmel, he is a father and a grandfather.

He is a member of the Glinsk Centre where he serves as PRO and Treasurer. He is also President of Roscommon/Athlone Region PTAA and Chairman of Connaught PAC. He sits on the Board of Management and has been a delegate from the Diocese of Elphin to Central Council.

He is a keen sportsman and has won many honours during his sporting and coaching career.

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