A Galway TD has invited anyone with an interest in learning more about gambling problems – an addiction that has touched many families – to attend a public meeting in North Galway next week.
The ‘Gambling Awareness Meeting’ has been organised by Deputy Anne Rabbitte for Abbeyknockmoy on the Friday night of March 24 (8pm) and will feature a number of high profile speakers.
Three of the speakers will give personal accounts of how gambling impacted so adversely on their lives – former All-Ireland winning Armagh footballer, Oisín McConville; former An Post worker, Tony O’Reilly and current Galway hurler Davy Glennon.
The meeting – being hosted by Deputy Rabbitte – will take place in the public hall area of the Abbey Inn and will also be addressed by Tom Blanche, a former school principal and educational consultant, as well as David Hickson of the Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland.
Deputy Rabbitte said that families across the length and breadth of Ireland had been affected by someone close to them having a gambling addiction, leading to horrendous consequences.
“Given the rise in people seeking treatment for this type of addiction in the past number of years and the staggering figures that Irish people gamble over €5 billion per year it would be safe to say that there probably isn’t a town in Ireland without someone whose life has been touched by this blight.
“Gambling addiction is an insidious disease – many people who have suffered from it say it can be easily hidden from those around them for far too long so that by the time they realise they need help, they are already in too deep.
“They are heavily in debt and they have done things they are ashamed of – this makes coming clean, extremely difficult. They feel isolated and hopeless.
“That is why this public meeting is so important. People need to realise the damage an addiction like this can do. Addiction does not discriminate by age or wealth. Anyone can fall foul of this scourge,” said Deputy Rabbitte.
She also pointed out that an individual deep in the throes of addiction often finds it hard to acknowledge the existence of the problem and frequently can see no escape route.
Deputy Rabbitte said that the aim of the meeting was ‘to shine a light’ for people affected that there is help out there and that they are not alone.
“In this age of online gambling and smart phones, where you can place bets at the touch of a button, an awareness of the problem is even more vital. As well as that, we are living in times where we are being subjected to continuous targeted advertising encouraging gambling,” said Deputy Rabbitte.
Oisín McConville – a gambling addict for many years – is now a specialist counsellor on the subject as well as on mental health issues.
Tony O’Reilly is a former worker with An Post who gambled over €10 million of company funds, while Mullagh’s Davy Glennon has spoken extensively about his gambling addictions through a lot of his adult life.
■ For further information on the meeting, Anne Rabbitte can be contacted on 091-841000 or 09097-9695.