Our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar would like us drinking more. At least that’s what you would think looking at Goverment actions. This week the Dail passed a new law. This bill allows drink to be sold on Good Friday. Now whether or not you’re in favour of the law it really shows Government does not get the damage alcohol is doing. This Good Friday bill was passed into law in just 340 days.
The Public Health Alcohol bill is waiting over 781 days
Another bill, the Public Health Alcohol bill is now waiting over 781 days. Rather than encouraging people into drinking more, this bill has a number of measures to encourage people to drink less. Three people a day are dying from drinking too much so it’s badly needed. Over 1,500 people have died since the bill was first drafted. The bill will reduce pressure on our health care, child care and legal systems.
Hospital trolley crisis gets worse
Alcohol harm means 1,500 people occupy hospital beds every night. So reducing alcohol harm should be a top priority. This week people waiting on hospital trollies have reached their highest levels ever. 688 people are on hospital trollies this week. If we reduced alcohol harm by just 7%, 100 people suffering on trollies today would not be there.
Reducing alcohol harm should be a priority
Whatever your views on Good Friday drinking, surely a bill which will reduce alcohol harm should be implemented before a bill encouraging drinking more?
Are people on trollies not a higher priority than the profit of big business? Or the 270,000 children suffering as a result of their parents drinking?
Government action does work
We know Government action works. For example, the Workplace Smoking ban reduced smoking by 7%. Now we have more quitters than actual smokers. However, the Alcohol industry have learned from this ban and are using every trick they can to prevent this bill passing.
Alcohol lobbying never stops
The pressure from the alcohol lobby to block the Public Health Alcohol bill is relentless. In 3 months, just one alcohol lobbyist, lobbied
Six Cabinet Ministers,
Five Ministers of State,
The Taoiseach’s chief of staff Brian Murphy,
Six special advisers,
Assistant secretaries in the Department of Transport and Department of Agriculture,
Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly
Three county councillors.
There were meetings with 14 Government Ministers and Ministers of State and 10 special advisers about the Public Health Alcohol Bill. See more details here
Alcohol lobbying is working
The fact that the alcohol industry is so active on lobbying, shows they are worried this bill will work and reduce their profits. Their lobbying is working. The debate in the Dail shows some politicians do not understand alcohol harm. They made statements like
Most people in Ireland drink moderately. False.
The majority of Irish people who drink are harming themselves with binge drinking the norm. More details here.
They said tourists visit Ireland for our pubs. False. It’s not even in the top eight reasons according to Failte Ireland.
Are we drinking more because drinking all the time is so normal?
Would managing our drinking be easier if drinking at every occasion, nights out, parties, christenings, and funerals was not so normal? Many people feel isolated and excluded when they don’t drink. I described my own experience here of drinking because I did n’t want to upset my friends. It would be easier to drink less if more people knew the harm that alcohol causes.
We need to change the culture around alcohol
The Public Health Alcohol bill won’t solve all our problems with alcohol. It will start denormalising alcohol with health warnings. It will no longer be possible to display alcohol as if it was just another ordinary product. It contains a range of measures shown to work in other countries to reduce the amount of alcohol we drink.
You can make a difference
Our politicians need to hear from people like you who understand the damage alcohol is doing to our society. So please email our Taoiseach to tell him you are disappointed he is prioritising alcohol over people’s health.
You can also use Alcohol Ireland’s easy email facility to email your local TD’s here. You can even edit the suggested text.
So please take a minute to show you care about alcohol harm. Send an email.