Tuesday 16 July 2019

Fine Gael election candidate admits drunken altercation

Fine Gael councillor and general election candidate John McGahon has publicly apologised after he was involved in a drunken altercation four months ago.

The 27 year old who was elected to Louth County Council in 2014 , revealed in an interview with Michael Reade on LMFM 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 said.

He also conceded that he hadn't told the truth when interviewed by Michael Reade previously when he hadn't admitted being involved in a row.

He didn't go into detail about the fight saying that it was being investigated and if he is asked to make a statement about it he will. He also said that while he is in the public eye, the other person isn't and it wouldn't be fair for him to comment on it.

He said that the row was 'crystallising moment' for him which made him realise that he has to deal wit his relationship with alcohol.

'There are so many times where my behaviour was unacceptable. For me the common denominator was alcohol,' Cllr 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.'

Cllr McGahon comes from a family with long associations with politics in Dundalk. His father Johnny, who drove him to the studio for the interview, was a Fine Gael councillor as was his grandfather Owen B McGahon. His uncle was Brendan McGahon, who took a strong view on law and order during is time as Fine Gael TD. Cllr McGahon acknowledged that his behaviour went against that and said it was unacceptable due to his work, not just as a councillor but as a parliamentary assistant.

Drogheda Independent