Drinks companies have rejected suggestions that they should make a financial contribution to hospitals towards the cost of treating patients with alcohol-related illnesses.
“We sell a product in an entirely responsible manner. It is properly labelled and only sold to people of legal drinking age.
“The idea that we would be penalised for doing the job we do legally and responsibly is very unfair,” said Peter O’ Brien chairman of the Drinks Industry Group.
He was speaking at the launch of a new report showing that per capita consumption if alcohol is 14.4pc below what it was in 2007 and the numbers of full time employees in bars have fallen by a quarter since 2008.
There are now nearly 1,000 fewer pubs than in 2007 after they suffered a drop of one third in sales, the report found.
He said the industry is calling on the government to reverse last year’s excise increase in alcohol in order to allow “this important sector and its employees to build a more sustainable and positive future.”
Meanwhile, the youth website SpunOut.ie has called on music acts appearing at Diageo’s Arthur’s Day events around the country to donate their fees to charities working with young people and adults suffering from alcohol related harm.
The headline acts scheduled for the alcohol marketing event taking place this Thursday include Biffy Clyro, Emeli Sandé, Iggy Azalea, Janelle Monáe and Irish acts Kodaline, Le Galaxie & The Script.
Spokesman Ian Power said that last year A&E departments around Ireland saw a spike in the number of people admitted to hospital on Arthur’s Day due to alcohol related harm.
“Alcohol related harm currently costs the Irish health system €4bn per annum, while the drinks industry contributes just €2bn back to the exchequer in tax.
“Diageo acknowledged on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning that the aim of Arthur’s Day is to increase consumption, saying they chose Thursdays to hold the event as weekends were already busy enough.
““What we’re saying to the acts and their fans is simple; Diageo’s Arthur’s Day is a marketing exercise with the sole aim of increasing alcohol consumption without any regard to the harm caused.” says Ian Power, spokesperson for SpunOut.ie
“We only need to look at the recent Irish reports published on suicide and self harm which show the times at which people present at hospitals having self-harmed mirrors the pattern of increased alcohol consumption, peaking on Saturdays. Alcohol was a factor in 38pc of all self harm cases in 2012,” he added.
Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent