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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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Union of Students in Ireland distances itself from responsible drinking organisation

The national students’ union will no longer partner with drinkaware.ie and plans to work with “other bodies not funded by a self-regulating drinks industry”.

USI President Joe O'Connor
USI President Joe O'Connor
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE UNION OF Students in Ireland (USI) is to distance itself from drinkaware.ie, an organisation which promotes responsible drinking.

The national students’ union had worked in partnership with the organisation, which is part of MEAS, to promote the responsible consumption of alcohol among students.

However, they will now seek to develop an independent campaign while working with “other bodies not funded by a self-regulating drinks industry”.

The proposal to the end the partnership was passed without objection at USI National Council earlier this month.

In a statement, USI President Joe O’Connor said drinkaware.ie’s support for the Arthur’s Day festival raised concerns within the union regarding the body’s “credibility”.

Encouraging students to drink responsibly is still an encouragement for students to drink- regardless of how it’s qualified.

The union’s Vice President for Welfare Denise McCarthy said that the USI wanted to ensure that “students’ health is at the forefront of any campaigns we run/support… we are not best served doing that in partnership with Drinkaware”.

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A booklet produced by USI and drinkaware.ie. (Image Credit: drinkaware.ie)

Reacting to the USI statement, CEO of MEAS and drinkaware.ie Fionnuala Sheehan said her organisation “does not encourage anyone to drink”.

“Indeed it advises there are circumstances where people should not drink alcohol,” she continued, “but we seek to address the realities of alcohol in Irish society as they have developed over time.”

Research into the drinkaware.ie brand has shown that 85 per cent of over-18s are aware of the organisation, and that 90 per cent of people believe the brand should be used more widely, she noted.

Read the full letter from the USI to MEAS here >

Read: Why are people saying ‘Down with Arthur’s Day’?

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Nicky Ryan

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