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Pioneers' group calls for return of Confirmation pledge

The practice has become less universal in recent years, but is still in use in many parishes.

Image: Shutterstock/milias1987

A CATHOLIC PIONEERS’ group has called for a return of the Confirmation abstinence pledge as a way of tackling Ireland’s problem with alcohol.

Traditionally, children of Confirmation age in Ireland generally promised not to drink alcohol until they were 18.

In recent years there has been a softening of the practice, with the Irish Bishops’ Conference last year piloting a scheme where alternatives were offered in parishes around the country where it was felt that practice was outmoded.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the president of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association (PTAA) James Shevlin said:

It was an integral part of the Confirmation ceremony, and we’d like to see it come back again.

The PTAA is a faith-based organisation and have been campaigning against underage drinking for over 100 years.

It is famous for its pioneer pins, which members can be seen wearing on the lapels of their clothing.

“We feel it was a pity that it happened,” Shevlin said, “in light of the way the attitude to alcohol has gone in the last few years, anything that would help to create an awareness or a culture of sobriety would help”.

Just why is he making these comments now? 

So an organisation of Catholic teetotallers calling for a return of the pledge… no surprises there, right?

There is another reason for Shevlin’s appeal, however.

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Earlier this week liver specialist and president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Professor Frank Murray said that that around three people die a day from alcohol-related illness in Ireland – and that there had been a rise in the number of people in their 30s dying from liver failure.

Still going on 

Although children taking the pledge as part of their Confirmation might not be quite as universal as it once was, it’s still pretty common.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for Irish Bishops’ Conference said “there are 26 dioceses on the island and I am not aware of any diocese in which the pledge is not offered to the Confirmandi”.

Along with parents, bishops and priests are very concerned about the use of alcohol in Irish society, and especially the damage it can do to young people who are subject to the well-funded and persuasive marketing campaigns of the drinks industry.

Read: With “crazy drinking” and p***ing in the street, one Galway chef has had enough of ‘The Races’

Also: A bar’s ‘Bottomless Prosecco’ deal is among three ads given a slap on the wrist

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