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IBDI plea for an alcohol free St Patrick’s Day

By Sarah Mac Donald - 15 March, 2014

031712_ENT_StPattysDay_CA_002_display-thumb-411x274-137073The Irish Bishops Drugs Initiative (IBDI) has pleaded with parents to keep alcohol out of their St Patrick’s Day celebrations for the sake of their children.

In a statement issued on Friday, Bishop Éamonn Walsh, vice chair of the IBDI said, “Parents are the most important influence on children in terms of alcohol use, and the example set by parents will have a major effect on the relationship young people will have with alcohol.”

The IBDI is urging families to have a fun day out this weekend by keeping it alcohol-free.

Wishing Irish people at home and abroad a happy, healthy, joyful and thoughtful St Patrick’s Day, the IBDI said it was encouraging individuals and families to celebrate the national holiday of the country’s patron saint without an over-reliance on alcohol.

Referring to national and international research which has shown that parental influence is much more significant than peer influence on how young people deal with alcohol, Bishop Walsh said, “It is important that parents and other adults are aware of the consequences of underage drinking.”

Young people who start drinking before the age of fifteen are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and alcohol-related damage in later in life according to Alcohol Action Ireland.   

The pastoral experience of the IBDI in parishes, the Bishop said, highlights the value of talking to young people about alcohol use in a calm context.

He added that IBDI feedback from parishes had pointed up the benefits of delaying for as long as possible children’s initiation into the use of alcohol.

This St Patrick’s Day, the IBDI has issued a number of recommendations which include:
•       if alcohol is to be consumed, always drink in moderation
•       never drink alcohol and drive
•       sometimes refuse an alcoholic drink when offered
•       consider not including alcohol in family celebrations and at social occasions
•       avoid using alcohol as an emotional crutch

The Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative www.irishbishopsdrugsinitiative.com was established in 1997 as a Catholic Church response to the growing problem of drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland.  

The IBDI chairperson is Ms Patricia Conway and vice-chair is Bishop Éamonn Walsh, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Dublin.  

The IBDI pastoral initiative operates in over 250 parishes throughout Ireland – north and south. Alcohol Action Ireland: www.alcoholireland.ie

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