"The Pioneer Total Abstinence Association has made an unique contribution to Irish social life. It challenged - and in many ways reversed - the Punch cartoon image of the Irish as being a nation of drunkards and lay-abouts. 

It removed -or at least diminished - an historic obstacle to political and economic progress. The Association is a heady cocktail of pragmatism and spirituality. In many ways the Ireland of to-day is rudderless as to what can be done to stem the scourge of underage drinking and drug abuse with consequent fatalities, broken homes, wrecked lives and unfulfilled dreams. 

Our helpless response is very often jocose and dismissive. 

While there is a need for on-going legislative corrective measures, they will not be sufficient to halt the corrosive nature of this modern blight which is eating away at the very roots of our society. The victims are not only those directly involved but the whole of society who suffer from muggings and killings by those who need money at any cost to feed their addictive habits. 

Old fashioned idealism as exemplified by the Pioneer Association is as potent and addictive today as it was at any time in our history. Youth welcome challenges; and the challenge of retaining control of their own lives - and not abdicating it to the pushers, purveyors or peers -can be offered to them as an attractive goal for a healthy, productive life. It is not always young people who reject such idealism but adults who have not enough confidence in the young generation to test their commitment and tenacity.”

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú as Guest Speaker at the national Pioneer Ball in Tralee.