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A more sinister problem

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Sir -- Terence Casey, a south Kerry coroner, has claimed that more stringent drink-driving laws were leading to more suicides among older males. I think that the coroner's views, although outrageous, do actually highlight a much deeper issue in rural Irish society.

The fact that rural Ireland seems to still revolve around the local pub is a worrying indictment of this country's traditions.

There is obviously a more sinister problem lurking in the minds of suicide victims that can never be solely related to alcohol.

I think the main issue here is rural isolation, and that may be the point the coroner was trying to make. His sentiments did focus on drinking, and going out for 'one or two pints', which rendered his opinion old-fashioned and plain wrong.

Rural social inclusion and activity shouldn't and doesn't have to involve alcohol, and in most communities there are numerous clubs and groups for elderly people to interact socially without alcohol.

Drink-driving is a bigger problem in rural areas where the practice is more widespread and roads are poorer.

Drink-driving is still a huge problem here, even with the decrease in road deaths in 2011. The hailing of reduced road fatalities as a success is an unnerving celebration for me; people still died on our roads last year.

I think now is not the time to relax the laws on drink-driving; there is never a time for this. A further tightening of such laws is more desirable, and the issues of suicide and rural isolation are completely separate problems which should also be dealt with.

Justin Kelly

Edenderry,

Co Offaly

Sunday Independent