A Donegal Coroner has raised his concern at potentially lethal “underground” alcohol being consumed in the county.
Coroner John Cannon commented following the inquest held in Letterkenny on Tuesday following the death of two men in west Donegal, on separate occasions.
The Coroner issued a statement saying he was concerned that the cause of death in both cases was similar in being alcohol related with an exceedingly high level of poisonous contaminants.
He stated: “This potentially catastrophic alcohol is either a home brew, traditionally known as “poitin” or it may be available as cheap imported alcohol with the pretence of conventional branded names of well known distilleries. It appears to be easily obtained in the public place and as such is indeed a public health issue.”
The evidence given at the inquest by the investigating Gardaí stated that both men had been drinking heavily immediately before their death.
The Coroner said that the toxic and poison range of Methanol is 100 -125 mg/dl and in one of those deaths the Methanol level was 585 mg/dl.
Sergeant Bridget Mc Gowan indicated to the court that a third person had been admitted to Letterkenny General Hospital and Garda investigations are continuing to establish if the serious illness may be caused by Methanol or some other contaminant.
Mr. Cannon stated: “The fact that substances such as methanol and other toxic ingredients are used to either corrupt, debase or make impure an alcoholic beverage to pretend a taste or potency of its quality in order to make it more marketable in an unlawful underground market is potentially lethal and dangerous to the general public.”
The toxicological analysis of the sample analysed by the State Laboratory in relation to this death is catastrophically alarming and it is important that the public is aware and warned of the existence of poisonous alcohol availability in the public place, he added.
He outlined there are almost twice as many deaths due to alcohol in Ireland compared to all other drugs combined with more than 1000 deaths every year directly attributable to alcohol. In 2012 over 4500 people aged under 30 years were discharged from Irish hospitals with chronic diseases such as alcoholic related and liver diseases.
“Therefore it behoves us to highlight and warn the general public on such matters,” he concluded.