Sunday 11 December 2016

Alcohol giants are part of the problem - not the solution

Published 19/03/2015 | 02:30

TV doctor Ciara Kelly has stepped down from the board of the ‘Stop Out-of-Control Drinking’ campaign citing time constraints
TV doctor Ciara Kelly has stepped down from the board of the ‘Stop Out-of-Control Drinking’ campaign citing time constraints

Stop Out-Of-Control Drinking' is not just a well-intentioned aim, it is the name of a public health campaign group. So far, so good. Except it is part-funded by Diageo and, oddly enough for an organisation touchily insisting on its independence, a director of the drinks giant sits on its board. Which leads me to my next point. How about stopping out-of-control lobbying by vested interests - wouldn't that be a more effective strategy?

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Clearly, Ireland has a national drink problem, as recent St Patrick's Day revelries illustrate, with the emergency services once again called upon to deal with the fall-out from a series of alcohol-fuelled incidents, accidents and brawls.

Let's not shrug this off as drowning the shamrock and indulge in collective amnesia for another year. Drinking to dangerous excess is embedded in our culture and needs to be prised out. It starts young because it is normalised social behaviour. But the problem criss-crosses the generations, with alcohol-related illness or injury estimated to cost the State some €3.7bn annually.

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