Profile : Dan Neville TD, President of the Irish Suicidology Association

By Sarah O’Brien

Dan Neville TD, is a representative for the Limerick area. He was born on the 8th December 1946 and attended both the University of Limerick and University College Cork.

He boasts an impressive set of accolades to his name, including co-founder and president of the Irish Association of Suicidology and director of the Irish Palatine Association. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of The College of Psychiatry of Ireland.

The father of four who was first elected to the senate in 1989 has been elected spokesperson on children, mental health, mental health issues and deputy spokesperson on health, over the course of his 25 year political career.

Mr. Neville’s political career has been long and eventful. From 2002 to 2007, he was on the National Economic and Social Form and Project Team on Mental Health and Social Inclusion.

In May 2008, he was elected as Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Sub-committee on Suicide Prevention, he has even served as Deputy Chief Whip of Fine Gael for a duration of five years.

In 1996 along with Dr. John Connolly and the late Dr. Michael Kelleher, Mr. Neville set up the Irish association of Suicideology.
‘‘There was no other organisation in the country to lobby and raise awareness for people affected by suicide and self-harm.
‘’we set up the organisation in order to decriminalise suicide as it was an offence up to July 1993’’, Mr. Neville explains.

In the Autumn/Winter edition of the IAS newsletter (Irish Association of Suicideology), the staunch Catholic wished to thank everyone for their continued support of the organisation. ‘’Our work continues in a difficult area of Irish life’’, he adds. And difficult work it is. Limerick has a suicide rate 3 percent higher than the national average according to the central statistics office (CSO).

A mixture of economic depression and the stigma related to mental health issues can be attributed to this. In a recent press statement Mr. Neville said, “Dealing with stigma is one of the biggest challenges we face in dealing with mental health problems…Stigma can lead to people avoiding social situations or working with others. It causes low self-esteem, isolation and hopelessness.’’

According to Our Geels: All Ireland Traveller Health Survey, 2010, traveller suicide rates for men are over 6 times the national average. Dan Neville’s constituency office is based in an area that is densely populated by travellers, but said he didn’t think Rathkeale was adversely affected by suicide.

‘’I launched a report a few years ago into researching traveller suicide rates in Tallaght, Dublin, which saw a higher suicide rate in Tallaght and in the surrounding areas. But Rathkeale travellers don’t seem to be affected by this’’ He explained.

Dan Neville’s constituents were quick to commend the family man, and his service to the county Limerick area.

Marylouise Hogan a local constituent, explains how Mr Neville, helped her sort out her difficulties with her social welfare payment by helping her arrange her job applications and by setting up referrals with the Newcastle West Social welfare branch. ‘’He’s a fair man, if you’re straight with him’’, Ms. Hogan added.

When asked about Dan Neville’s contributions to his constituents over the last two decades,Local man James O’Brien said, ‘’He (Mr. Neville) is a public servant of some substance’’.

Dan Neville was married to Tipperary woman Goretti O’Callaghan who sadly passed away in 2009. She is survived by Dan and their children, Tom, Maria, Maeve and Danny.

Dan Neville TD. Constituency office: Main Street, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick
He can also be contacted by Telephone: 069-63610

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