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Battling the booze

As St Patrick’s Day approaches and some prepare to ‘drown the shamrock’ the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association is asking people to take stock of the significance of the day and not spoil it by abusing alcohol.

Speaking at the launch of its nationwide Fundraising Appeal for 2017 on Tuesday 14 March, Raymond O’Connor, (see photo), Project Co-ordinator of the Pioneers says, “We want everyone to enjoy our national holiday – a day in which we take pride in being Irish. But we know it is also a day that can be marred by the fall out from excessive drinking. So we’re asking those who drink to do so sensibly and in moderation”.

In this interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications Ray talks about our attitude to drink as a nation, the role the Pioneers seek to play in promoting the health and spiritual well-being of Irish society and the urgent need for public funding to continue their work.

According to Raymond O’Connor, the need for the work of the Pioneers is greater than ever in the Ireland of today. “The contribution of the Pioneer way of life has a positive impact on Irish life and culture – a culture that we celebrate with pride on St Patrick’s Day. It’s a family day too and we want to show our young people that we can enjoy and celebrate as a nation without having to get drunk.”

A specially important part of the work of the Pioneers is encouraging young people to stay off alcohol until eighteen and off drugs for life. (Watch short video ‘Make a Difference’ here.) This video features the song ‘Gravity’ by the artist Eden and was compiled as a collaboration project between the Pioneer Association and a group of business students from UCD.

Launching the fundraising appeal Raymond O’Connor said it was necessary to “ensure the financial viability of the Association which has made such a significant contribution to the stability of family life over so many decades, both in Ireland and overseas.”

He noted that the Jesuits have supported the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart (PTAA) since its foundation in 1898 and have kept it going throughout much of its 120-year history. From January 2018 onwards, the Jesuit involvement will cease and the PTAA will now operate as a Private Lay Association of the Faithful.

“The PTAA, as a registered charity, is currently undergoing a period of change as a result and will strive to carry on the good work of the Association with the aid of donations from a generous public,” he said, adding :

‘’We would like to thank the Jesuits for their governance and guidance of the Association over the past 120 years. The inspiration of the founder Fr. James Cullen, SJ, to tackle the issue of alcohol abuse which was rampant at that time in Irish society, began with four women and today the association has approximately 130,000 members in Ireland alone with many more members in countries abroad.”

Pioneers are involved in various organisations that build up the life of the local community, according to Raymond O’ Connor, and “many families and homes have benefited greatly from the individual Pioneer’s sacrifice from alcohol. Benefits, in terms of health, finances, peace and harmony in the home, enhanced relationships, and community volunteering.”

The Pioneer Association promotes and encourages people in Ireland today to drink in moderation and its own members abstain completely from alcohol.

The Pioneer Association is inviting its members and the wider public to support this appeal and contribute generously towards it. “As Pioneers, we are known throughout Ireland for our tradition of giving to others and of our service to the community”, says Raymond O’Connor. “Any money we receive from people will help sustain the Association in its efforts to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol abuse in our society. As always, we rely on the generosity and good will of our members and friends of the Pioneer Association and we are grateful to them for their ongoing support.”

Visit the Pioneer website for further information regarding the Pioneer Appeal.