Sale of alcohol on Good Friday

Sat, Jul 5, 2014, 01:08

Sir, – I refer to the article “Call for end of Good Friday pub closing” (July 3rd).

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 practises 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 of the Christian calendar.

It is a matter for the civil authorities to decide on the context and content of legislation, and this should serve the common good. 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. It is also true to say that we can enjoy Christmas Day each year without pubs being open.

The reality of Ireland’s relationship with alcohol was highlighted only one week ago by the Health Research Board study of Irish people’s alcohol consumption. The publication revealed that one-in-three of 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 our people in the 18-24 age bracket binge drink. Whilst stark, these trends are not new.

In response, since 1997, the Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative has sought to mobilise parish communities throughout the country, 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 above findings indicate that Ireland’s behaviour to alcohol is fast becoming a national emergency. It is incumbent on politicians, and on all of us, to propose solutions to address the human suffering arising from alcohol misuse, and to challenge directly the agenda of the drinks industry. – Yours, etc,

Bishop ÉAMONN WALSH,

Irish Bishops’

Drugs Initiative,

Columba Centre,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.