Limerick Unlocked: Sarah Jane Hennelly
AN initiative which aims to create an alternative social scene for those wishing to give up drink this year is taking off in Limerick.
Led by former Social Democrats general election candidate, Sarah Jane Hennelly, she said that though the Limerick Unlocked programme is currently a “modest idea”, it is hoped that it will help people “kick the booze” this year.
“Lots of people choose to stay away from drinking for January after a heavy Christmas. Like most Irish people, the social scene is almost exclusively geared around drinking. Choosing to stay away from alcohol means, for a lot of people, a massive reduction in options for social outlets.
“A lot of us have gotten together to promote either existing events or else host new events – like games nights, dinners, cinema nights or activities like kayaking, running or rock wall climbing, in Limerick City. It’s a way for us all to get together and turn what could be a socially isolating thing into a great thing,” Ms Hennelly said.
She said that Ireland’s “extremely poor” non-drinking culture is a “big reason why many people find it difficult to give it up because it requires a drastic change in people’s lifestyles.
“This really is a huge societal issue which can be partly addressed by giving people options socially.”
Ms Hennelly added: “In addition to all of this, I understand there are many people who feel unable to engage socially in this way, or feel they may need more support with their drinking than just more social events.
“That’s why it’s important to highlight the many supports in the city for people struggling with alcohol or any other mental health difficulties. Limerick Mental Health Association has listings of the various fantastic and welcoming groups who are there, ready and willing to help.”
Ms Hennelly was recently elected the party’s national executive vice-chairperson, and is the Social Democrats’ leading member in Limerick.