November 23, 1963.
Mr Oliver J Flanagan TD, addressing a gathering of branches of Laois Pioneers held in St Mary’s Hall, Portlaoise, on Sunday, which was also addressed by a group of the Alcoholic Anonymous Association from Dublin said: The motto of the association, “Ireland Sober is Ireland Free” was in itself one of the great reasons why the association should have the whole-hearted support and co-operation of every section of the general public, as well as the respect and blessing of those who may not be as temperate as they would wish to be, but none the less sincere in their national outlook towards everything that stood for the betterment of the country.
No matter what progress the association was making, or indeed other great temperance movements, it must be admitted that intemperance was still a great evil in this country and that in recent times it was again on the increase.
It was clearly evident in many parts of the country that since the opening of public houses on Sundays, the Sunday was set aside as an evening to indulge in drinking. When the Bill was going through the Dail, I strongly opposed Sunday opening, said the Deputy, because it was not sought by the licensed trade and there was no demand from the general public for it, and certainly the Trade Unions did not seek Sunday opening.
Those engaged in the licensed trade are highly public spirited citizens, who realise their responsibilities as an important part of our business community and the greater percentage did not require the long opening hours at present in operation for Sundays. It must now be admitted that Sunday as a day of rest was no longer such, and when licensed premises were open for business it set a head-line for other businesses.