We need change in attitude to alcohol – priest

Ireland needs a “cultural shift” to change attitudes towards alcohol abuse

Ireland needs a “cultural shift” to change attitudes towards alcohol abuse according to a Limerick priest who has supported a number of families who have been bereaved by alcohol-related suicide.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic after addressing an Alcohol Action Ireland conference last week, Fr Pat Seaver, a curate at St Munchin’s parish church, said we must break the “connection between having a good time and being so drunk you can’t remember it”.

Fr Seaver recently gave a powerful homily at the funeral of 15-year-old Chloe Kinsella who was found in the River Shannon six days after she went missing from her home after a night of drinking. Her tragic death followed two similar deaths of students from her school earlier in the year and Chloe’s parents asked Fr Seaver to use her funeral to send a message to young people to “live life to the full”.

Fr Seaver said we cannot tackle alcohol abuse by speaking to children or young people alone. “We tried to revive the Irish language in the schools through the young people but it doesn’t work because they go home and there is no Irish spoken. It’s the same thing with the Church at the moment – they are trying to revive religion through the schools and it does not work. You can do the most marvellous work in religion class and once they go home there’s no prayers said and there is no example.

“Maybe the Church should speak more about alcohol, but the snag is a lot of priests are fond of the drink as well,” Fr Seaver said.

“Young people will follow the example of their parents. We need a cultural shift,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of time and we all have a role to play. It’s for the whole of society and we have to keep chipping away, and we have to pray.”