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Alcohol Forum chairman calls for levy on drinks industry

The National Alcohol Conference was told by Pat Harvey that Ireland’s drinking “is of epidemic proportions” and that parents should ask if their drinking impacts their family.

AN ‘UNAPOLOGETIC’ LEVY should be put on the drinks industry, the chairman of the Alcohol Forum has said.

Pat Harvey, who is also a former CEO of the North Western Health Board, addressed the National Alcohol Conference today, challenging Government, the drinks industry and parents to show leadership on what he described as “Ireland’s harmful drinking epidemic”.

He said that Ireland “would be a much richer country, socially, economically and from a health perspective if we were brave enough to show leadership”. In a hard-hitting address, he called for the “unapologetic” levy on what he described as the ‘Goliath’, saying:

I don’t buy this argument that drinking levels are solely an individual’s responsibility. The culture we have as a society is all-important. As individuals we are hugely influenced by culture, its values and ‘the way we do things around here’. The drinks industry is a ‘Goliath’ in terms of muscle and funds nurturing a society that has alcohol consumption at dangerous and harmful levels.

He said that the industry should be levied so that it “pays generously towards undoing some of the harm associated with harmful drinking”.

Regarding the National Alcohol Strategy, Harvey called on Government to make it law as a matter of urgency, and also challenged parents on their drinking. He said parents should ask the question: “How does my drinking impact our family?”

Harvey also said that people should bear in mind:

  • One in 10 young people say they are suffering emotional distress, neglect, and increased responsibilities as a result of parent drinking patterns
  • One in 3 of Irish children are at risk because of excess drinking by parents
  • One in 7 child welfare concerns revolve around alcohol abuse
  • One in 3 people attending Emergency Departments at weekends do so because of too much drink

The National Alcohol Conference is taking place in the Convention Centre Dublin and is the forum’s flagship event as part of National Alcohol Awareness Week. This awareness week, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, runs from 18-22 March.

Also speaking at the event will be Junior Minister Alex White.

Read: Impact of harmful drinking on Irish children ‘a national scandal’>

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