Thursday 21 June 2018

Ryanair brushes off criticism of controversial Leaving Cert post that 'encourages binge drinking as normal behaviour'

The image was posted on social media this morning as the Leaving Cert exams get underway in Ireland today
The image was posted on social media this morning as the Leaving Cert exams get underway in Ireland today

Rachel Farrell

Ryanair has been "encouraging binge drinking as normal behaviour" with a controversial advertisement ahead of holidays for students taking exams, it has been claimed.

As 55,770 students began their Leaving Certificate exams yesterday, Ryanair shared a picture online of a young man lying on a beach with an empty bottle of wine beside them.

It was captioned: "To all Leaving Cert and A-Level students: plan your dream summer holiday now so you have something to look forward to.

"Book on Ryanair.com in between 'studying' tonight. This could be you."

Many Twitter users criticised the airline for being "irresponsible" and for "encouraging binge drinking and beach littering".

Dual Diagnosis Ireland, an organisation helping people with both substance abuse and mental health problems, said they thought the post sends a bad message.

"Encouraging binge drinking as normal behaviour when three people die a day from alcohol harm is shameful. 

"It's very irresponsible of Ryanair. It's a serious issue, we really do not fully understand the harm alcohol can have on our bodies," a spokesperson for the registered charity told Independent.ie.

Ryanair have brushed off the negative comments, saying the tweet was posted by staff members "reminiscing" on their own Leaving Cert holiday antics.

"Our social media team were merely reminiscing about their own first lads/girls trip away, and recalling all the wonderful sightseeing, singsongs and cultural activities they enjoyed as teenagers," a Ryanair spokesperson said.

Drinkaware said that the advert was "surprising" and they are encouraging students to drink in moderation.

“Getting so drunk that you pass out is bad for your health, your safety and that of other people and your pride.

“It’s surprising that this is Ryanair’s idea of a ‘dream summer holiday’ and we would urge the airline to  look again at this advert and the message it sends," Ben Butler, content and communications director at Drinkaware said.

“Binge drinking in particular can be extremely dangerous as your body can only process about one unit of alcohol an hour, and when you’re in a hot country, you need to be extra mindful of staying hydrated. Drinking a lot in a short space of time can lead to serious consequences, and could stop the body from working properly."

Last year, Ryanair called on UK airports to impose a two-drink rule for passengers, as well as banning the sale of alcohol before 10am.

Customers flying to Ibiza from the UK are no longer allowed to bring duty-free alcohol on board the aircraft, but alcohol is still available on the in-flight menu.

"It’s completely unfair that airports can profit from the unlimited sale of alcohol to passengers and leave the airlines to deal with the safety consequences.," Ryanair's Kenny Jacobs said in August 2017.

"This is a particular problem during flight delays when airports apply no limit to the sale of alcohol in airside bars and restaurants. This is an issue which the airports must now address and we are calling for significant changes to prohibit the sale of alcohol at airports, particularly with early morning flights and when flights are delayed."

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