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Pioneering and the community

ptaa_eglish_01Over 150 people attended a very successful “Pioneering and the Community” event which the Eglish Pioneer Association, Northern Ireland ran last month. The event brought together some of Northern Ireland’s most high profile speakers from the world of politics, sport and the media. Pictured here at the event are: Hugh Jordan, Sunday World Journalist and author; Dame Nuala O’Loan, former Police Ombudsman; Richard Moore, Children in Crossfire founder; Tom Herron, Trauma Therapist; and Oisin McConville, former Armagh footballer. Also this week, the Pioneer Association launched its ‘Here’s to Moderation’ Christmas message. More details below.


Pioneers Launch ’09 “Here’s to Moderation” Christmas Message as Alcohol-related Public Order Offences Set to Rise During Festive Season

The Pioneer Total Abstinence Association (PTAA) launched its 2009 “Here’s To Moderation” Christmas Message today (4 December 2009) as the traditional seasonal festivities got underway at the start of a month when Ireland’s alcohol-related public order offences traditionally peak in the two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The “Here’s to Moderation” Christmas message is specifically targeting those of us who may be privately struggling with financial, social and emotional worries as a result of the recession and which we are trying to manage by drinking to excess, particularly over the coming festivities.

The Pioneers are appealing to the many of us documented in last month’s Health Research Board’s publication “Social consequences of harmful use of alcohol in Ireland”. Survey findings indicated that the number of Ireland’s alcohol-related public order offences has been rising annually. By 2007, alcohol-related offences climbed to a high of 66,000 with Christmas emerging as the peak time for such offences. Survey research also “showed personal drinking habits are having an impact at all ages. One in five people said they experienced harm to their friendships, home life or work, or were involved in fights in the previous year, as a result of their own drinking. The likelihood of this happening was highest among those who engaged in risky drinking every week and lowest among those who did not engage in risky drinking at all. The report also reveals that one in four people experienced negative consequences as a result of someone else’s drinking, such as family trouble, financial problems, assault, vandalism or being a passenger in a car with a drunk driver.”

Commenting on the launch of the Pioneer Christmas Message, Padraig Brady, PTAA CEO said : “ Christmas is a cherished religious event. It is also a time for socialising and seasonal goodwill all of which are crucial to our sense of well being. Drinking alcohol can be a very sociable activity when done in moderation. However, the reality of Christmas for many of us is that it can be a time of distress, loneliness, fear and violence as a result of excessive use of alcohol either at home or outside of the home. The private havoc that alcohol can cause people in every walk of life, but particularly at this time of year, is a cause of great concern to the Pioneers who are asking people not to overlook this more hidden aspect to Christmas.

“The Pioneers are not anti-alcohol. So many Christmas activities are alcohol-centred that it can be difficult for us to find the space and time to reflect on our relationship with alcohol in order to avoid developing a pattern of abusive dependence on it. At this time of recession, and with all the added pressures that this Christmas brings with it, perhaps we need to remind each other and as our public order offences record shows, drinking to excess only compounds issues with which people may already be struggling.”

The Pioneers work to address the problems in society caused by excess alcohol consumption and drug use. The Association does this through faith, prayer and example. The Pioneer vision – based on the love in the Heart of Christ, as expressed in The Gospels – is to help to build a society where people live to their full potential and alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation avoiding the fall-out that arises in society from alcohol abuse. More information on the PTAA is available from www.pioneerassociation.ie.