Irish Hierarchy’s Statement on the Intoxicating Liquor Laws
Posted by shane
The following statement was issued in 1959 by the Irish hierarchy at their June meeting in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth:
The Irish hierarchy has had under consideration the reports of the Commission of Inquiry into the operation of the laws relating to the sale and supply of intoxicating liquor.
The proposal of the majority of the commission to alter these laws has very grave moral, religious and economic implications.
The hierarchy is chiefly concerned with the moral and religious aspects of the proposed legislation.
It is a matter of deep regret that the Report should have confined its attention so largely to drunkenness — a relatively rare occurrence nowadays — rather than to drinking habits or addiction to alcohol.
The abolition of bona fide trading, if carried out, may be beneficial, but the benefits accruing from the change must be very seriously diminished by the recommendation to extend the opening hours all over the country on weekdays from 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. (with a break of one hour, 2.30 p.m. — 3.30 p.m. in County Boroughs only) and on Sundays from 12.30 p.m. to 2 p.m., and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
It cannot escape the attention of any responsible person that a relaxation of the law must seriously affect our people, more especially the youth of both sexes.
Increased facilities for obtaining intoxicating liquor by the extension of the general opening hours will inevitably lead to a greater extension of alcoholism which, in modern conditions has most serious moral and social effects in the increase of delinquency, and in widespread danger to life on the roads.
It is noteworthy that representatives of both the licensed trade and of the trade employees did not favour an extension of the hour of closing.
Other countries are feeling it necessary to adopt more stringent legislation in the public interest. The arguments adduced in the 1957 Irish Commission for what is called a policy of liberalisation are altogether unconvincing.
The bishops cannot believe that the vast and very reasonable majority of our decent people has shown any desire whatever for a relaxation of the law. On the contrary, the Christian sense of our people would welcome restriction and especially a genuine enforcement of law.
The evidence of the Gardaí before the Commission proves that the existing laws have not been impartially enforced.
The proposal of the Commission to permit universally the sale and supply of intoxicating liquor on Sundays, especially the proposal to permit opening immediately after Mass, strikes at what is most sacred in the life of our people. The rightful observance of the Lord’s Day has been one of the most powerful factors in preserving intact the Catholic life of Ireland.
While the concern of the bishops is primarily the moral and religious aspect of the proposed legislation, nonetheless, the bishops are acutely aware of the economic ills that must result from extended facilities for the consumption of intoxicating liquor. At a time when each successive Government is urging on the people the very grave need for thrift, hard work, and increased productivity, the recommendations of the majority of the Commission, insofar as they will make for increased drinking, are ill-advised and deeply hurtful to our economic life, domestic, social, and national.
The Irish hierarchy confidently hopes that legislation when it is introduced, will not weaken the moral fibre of our nation, and will respect the deep-seated convictions of our Catholic people.
Given at Maynooth on 23rd June, 1959.
Signed on behalf of the archbishops and bishops of Ireland.
Archbishop of Armagh,
Primate of All Ireland.
Bishop of Raphoe.
Bishop of Achonry.
Posted on April 1, 2011, in Alcoholism, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, Bishop Con Lucey, Bishop Michael Browne, Bishops' Pastorals, Cardinal John D'Alton, Catholic Action, Catholic Social Teaching, Decorum, Economics, Irish Church-State Relations, Irish History, Mass. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.