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Irish politicians won't be clamping down on alcohol abuse...

… because they think the public doesn’t want them to, according to new research.

Image: fhwrdh

IRISH POLICY MAKERS are reluctant to act on Ireland’s collective alcohol-problem as they think the public want to be allowed drink at will.

It seems the powers-that-be are not convinced that tougher alcohol control measures are consistent with the ‘national mood’, according to new research by Professor Shane Butler, associate professor in social work at Trinity College Dublin.

Butler has written a paper entitled ‘Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill: Policy Window or Political Sop?’, the key theme of which is that as much as our representatives talk tough about curbing alcohol use (and abuse) in Ireland, the facts suggest nothing effective has been done because politicians don’t think the public are ready to change.

butler Professor Shane Butler Source: TCD

The study suggests that for the last 30 years in Ireland public health experts have repeatedly told policy-makers that ‘liberal’ approaches to alcohol control, such as awareness campaigns, are relatively ineffective.

According to Butler, if a government really intends to tackle an issue it should:

implement measures to make alcohol more expensive, less accessible at retail level, and less normalised culturally through advertising, promotion, and marketing.

In October 2013 the current government included a number of alcohol-control measures in its Public Health (Alcohol) Bill – measures which pointedly included minimum pricing for drink.

However, Butler says that since such minimum pricing is the subject of European legal proceedings the measure is not guaranteed, while a ban on drinks companies sponsoring sporting and other events was not included as it was deemed ‘politically unacceptable’.

temple bar Dublin's Temple Bar on St. Patrick's Day, 2015 Source: EarthCam

“The proposed alcohol bill is not quite the landmark event claimed by the junior minister (at the time, Alex White) at the time of its announcement in October 2013,” says Butler.

The ‘political stream’ has not to date deemed tougher alcohol control measures to be consistent with the national mood.

In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In 2014, the average Irish person aged 15+ drank 11 litres of pure alcohol according to Alcohol Ireland, while some 1.35 million Irish citizens are harmful drinkers.

75% of all alcohol consumed in Ireland in 2013 was done so as part of a binge drinking session.

AI Source: Alcohol Ireland

Read: “Ireland has a serious problem – we drink too much alcohol”

Read: Drinking to excess: ‘I woke up at 3am in hospital and had no idea how I got there’

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