The pioneering work of North Mayo Coroner Dr Mick Loftus and Fr Leo Morahan, former chairman of Mayo GAA in establishing the anti alcohol-abuse campaign "Dothain" was lauded by members of the Western Health Board in Galway where the consequences of drink abuse were highlighted.
During an hour long debate members of the Board heard that drink related deaths in the Galway/Mayo/Roscommon region were now running at 150 deaths per year, that young people were binge drinking at younger and younger ages, that casualty Dept were being disrupted at weekends by drunken youths and that gardai and parents were failing in their duties to young people.
Cllr Pat Kilbane said that they were now faced with a very serious problem of drink abuse. When Dr Mick Loftus and Fr Morahan set up Dothain to tackle the issue some years ago they were regarded as cranks.
"It is clear that Dr Loftus knew what he was talking about and it is now clear that we, as a Health Board, are faced with an issue that we now must tackle. This is a serious health issue. Drunkenness and illnesses associated with it are a drain on our resources," he said.
Cllr Terry Leyden said Dr Loftus was to be complimented on the work he was doing. He had taken his own organisation - the GAA - to task in relation to drink sponsorship, something that was difficult for him as a former President.
"He has pioneered the Dothain campaign and he has the support of many concerned parents for his work," said Cllr Leyden. "Dr Loftus took a very courageous stand. He stood alone but it is the kind of example we need."
Cllr Tim Quinn also paid tribute to the stand taken by Dothain. He added that Mayo GAA had taken a stand on the filling of cups and had cancelled celebrations following the National League win. "It is a pity more organisations would not do likewise.
Dr Diarmuid McLoughlin said when Dr Loftus started Dothain ten years ago people laughed at him but he knew the problems, he was aware of them not just because of his work as a GP but also in his role as coroner.
He was ahead of his time and the Board and other organisations had some
distance to go to catch up and come to grips with the problem.