The Coroner for Mayo has issued a serious and stark warning about excessive alcohol consumption.
Pat O’Connor, the Coroner for Mayo made his comments in Castlebar Courthouse yesterday (Monday) at the end of four inquests into sudden deaths. Alcohol was a feature or a contributory factor to people’s deaths in three of the cases.
In light of this, he is urging people not to overindulge in alcohol over the Christmas season, and is warning members of the public to never drink and drive.
Destroyed by drink
Mr O’Connor stated that in the past year, 450 sudden deaths were reported to him and he has dealt with 50 inquests. He said he noticed that alcohol was a significant factor in many of the deaths he comes across. Now, as Christmas approaches, he is urging people to be aware of the dangers of drink.
“At this time of year when people celebrate, and rightly so with their families, consider the effects of overdoing it with alcohol. It is a poison and can lead to untimely death … If you have a health condition it [drinking alcohol to excess] won’t help it. In fact it will acerbate it,” he said.
One of the inquests dealt with yesterday involved the sudden death of a middle aged mother, whose death was due to alcohol intoxication after her alcohol readings were described as being at a toxic level. He also warned that anyone ‘who puts alcohol near their lips should not go near a car’.
Mayo’s poor record
Mr O’Connor’s comments were echoed by Sergeant Gerry McNally who asked people to drink in moderation over Christmas and to never drink and drive.
The Western Region of An Garda Siochána recently launched a Christmas and New Year Road Safety Campaign in a bid to prevent deaths over the festive season.
So far this year, 25 people have died on the roads of the five counties that make up the Garda Western Region, with eleven of those deaths occurring in Co Mayo.
The campaign will last until January 8, and it will see over 60 checkpoints a day across the region. Drivers were reminded that they may still be over the limit the morning after alcohol is consumed, and that the checkpoints will be active early in the day too.
“Drivers should be fully aware of the dangers of driving the morning after the night before. Twelve percent of all drink-driving arrests occur between 8am and 2pm, and of those, almost a third happen on a Sunday, peaking between 11am and 2pm,” said Supt Ernie White of the Western Region Traffic Division.
“It is critical that drivers take measures to ensure their safety and the safety of others, and this means leaving the car at home and taking a taxi or public transport the morning after if they need to get somewhere. It’s just not worth the chance if you are still over the legal limit,” he added.
Drink driving, speed, faulty tyres and the non-wearing of seat belts are the greatest contributory factors to road deaths and serious injuries. Motorists were advised that gardaí will be patrolling in both marked and unmarked garda cars and will be targeting drink driving, dangerous driving, speeding and driving distraction.
Cyclists and pedestrians are also being asked to ensure they wear hi-vis clothing right throughout the day but particularly during the hours of darkness.