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Irish Catholic leader urges abstinence from alcohol and drugs


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

John Burger - published on 07/08/19

Archbishop Eamon Martin said it's time to "reignite a temperance movement" in Ireland.

With the abuse of drugs and alcohol causing increased violence in city streets and within families in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin urged a return to a movement encouraging abstinence from such substances.

Martin, archbishop of Armagh and Catholic Primate of All Ireland, said it is time for Irish society to “reignite a temperance movement” to address the “terrible impact” of alcohol and drugs.

The 19th century temperance movement in Ireland got its start when a Catholic priest, Theobald Mathew, established the Teetotal Abstinence Society. He persuaded thousands of people to sign “the pledge.” In 1898, James Cullen founded the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association in response to the fading influence of the original temperance pledge.

Archbishop Martin made his suggestion after celebrating a Mass remembering St. Oliver Plunkett. The martyr, who was once archbishop of Armagh, gave up alcohol after he became concerned about “the devastation it was causing to the priestly life of his clergy,” Martin said during an interview with the Irish Independent newspaper.

Martin expressed concern over the fallout from drugs on the “streets of all of our major towns and villages.”

He said that drugs and alcohol are factors in the “terrible amounts of domestic violence” in Irish society today.

“We see how addictions like this can devastate family life and social life,” he said at the event, which took place at St. Peter’s Church in Drogheda, County Louth.

The newspaper noted that there has been a spate of violent attacks in Drogheda recently. Martin said he had been speaking to local priests and community leaders who were “very concerned” about the violence and criminality and other anti-social behavior linked to drugs.

Priests and community leaders were “quietly working on the ground to do what they can to try and encourage people to stand up to this and to try to keep their streets peaceful.”

“There is no future in a life of crime associated with drugs,” he warned those involved in the drugs trade, as he appealed to them to stop “for their own good.”

“They get promised all sorts of things by their leaders … a fancy life, big cars and plenty of money,” but they were really “just dealing in death,” he said.

The Irish Post noted that recent research reveals that about one in five adults experience some form of harm because of someone else’s drinking.

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