Irish society needs to reintroduce abstinence from alcohol and drugs - Archbishop Eamon Martin
The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said it is time for Irish society to "reignite a temperance movement" to address the "terrible impact" of alcohol and drugs.
Speaking to Independent.ie in Drogheda, Archbishop Eamon Martin expressed concern over the fallout from drugs on the "streets of all of our major towns and villages".
"We see how addictions like this can devastate family life and social life," he said and he also warned that it was a factor in the "terrible amounts of domestic violence" in Irish society today.
He was speaking after a Mass at St Peter’s Church in Drogheda to honour the martyred Irish saint, Oliver Plunkett, who was hung, drawn and quartered on 1 July 1681 in Tyburn, London.
During his lifetime, St Oliver, who was Archbishop of Armagh, gave up alcohol after he became concerned about "the devastation it was causing to the priestly life of his clergy", Dr Martin explained. Drogheda is part of the Archdiocese of Armagh.
On the recent spate of violent attacks in Drogheda, Archbishop 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 behaviour linked to drugs.
He said the 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."
"This is a beautiful city, a city of great history here in Ireland. It would be terrible to see a wonderful city like this and a tremendous community torn apart by the kind of criminality and violence that surrounds drugs," Dr Martin said.
"There is no future in a life of crime associated with drugs," he warned those involved in the drugs trade and he appealed to them to stop "for their own good".
"They get promised all sorts of things by their leaders" including "a fancy life, big cars and plenty of money" but they were really "just dealing in death," he criticised.
Of Saturday’s Rally for Life which saw up to 10,000 people march through Dublin to highlight their opposition to abortion, Dr Martin said, "I think this issue is as relevant today as it ever was. The law of society may have changed but the law of God remains the same: to take the life of any person directly and intentionally is a grave sin and a terrible crime."
He added that it was "something that we will always speak up for" and he expressed concern that Ireland could become desensitised to abortion.
Calling for a consistent ethic of life, he said it was "really important for Irish society to ask itself what support are we giving to children in the womb and to children in their early years; what supports are we giving to young mothers and what supports are we giving to ensure that people will have a proper home and proper sustenance in their lives."
He reiterated his concern over suggestions that amendments are being considered to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill in Westminster on Monday, to "fast track" the legalisation of abortion on demand in Northern Ireland.
He said the restoration of the Assembly in Stormont was urgently needed in order to give the people of Northern Ireland an opportunity to discuss this matter and prevent a "cynical" move to introduce "abortion by the backdoor".