Tuesday 22 October 2019

'I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol' - FG councillor apologises after drunken brawl

John McGahon Photo: Twitter @John_McGahon
John McGahon Photo: Twitter @John_McGahon
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A Fine Gael councillor and possible general election candidate has publicly apologised after he was involved in a drunken altercation earlier this year.

John McGahon (27), who was elected to Louth County Council, revealed that he was in a drunken fight last July and said that he is "deeply ashamed" of his actions.

"It was an incredibly stupid situation for me to even be associated with, let alone be involved in. It's something I'm deeply ashamed of and embarrassed about because I've let my family down, I've let my girlfriend down, I've let friends down. It's something that is totally unacceptable," Cllr McGahon told LMFM Radio.

He didn't go into detail about the fight but added that he has been dealing with alcohol issues for the past 10 years and that the altercation was a "crystallising moment" for him.

"There are so many times where my behaviour was unacceptable. For me the common denominator was alcohol," Mr McGahon said.

"I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I have a problem. If the weather was nice, I'd go for a pint. If the weather was bad, I'd go for a pint. Any excuse under the sun ... I got myself into stupid situations."

Cllr McGahon said that his alcohol problems took a huge toll on his mental health.

"You deal with real anxiety and depression and you question every life decision. I'd go for a few Sunday pints to settle my nerves. It wasn't once in a blue moon, it was every weekend."

He added that while he hasn't stopped drinking, he is taking steps to deal with his alcohol issue.

"I've dramatically cut down my drinking. I'm trying to avoid situations where I have pints. It takes a lot of focus and determination and in order to maintain that, I'm starting counselling next week. I can't tackle this by myself. I wish I had started sooner."

Cllr McGahon, who hopes to run as a Fine Gael candidate in the next general election, said that he wants to use his experience to raise awareness of mental health among men in particular.

"I was a typical lad. I kept my head down. If I had any issues I just ploughed on. I said I'm strong enough, I don't have to deal with it and it was the worst thing I have ever done," he said.

"If you look at most men around the country my age, some of them do have unhealthy relationships with alcohol and mental health. I now have a platform as a Dail candidate, and if all goes to plan and I get elected to the Dail in the next general election and become a TD, I want to use that platform to show that I had a tough time with it and I confronted it.

"I thought being strong was just carrying on and not saying anything about it. I wish I had done it a long time ago."

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