Tuesday 20 February 2018

Student body cuts ties with Drinkaware.ie

USI says it will tackle students' excessive drinking independently. Cathal McNaughton/PA Wire
USI says it will tackle students' excessive drinking independently. Cathal McNaughton/PA Wire
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has cut ties with the DrinkAware campaign.

The union had been concerned about Drinkaware.ie’s ties to the alcohol industry, and the organisation's “deafening silence” in relation to campaigning during Arthur’s Day, it said.

USI President Joe O’Connor told independent.ie the decision to quit partnership with Drinkaware.ie had been building “for some time”.

The motion was passed without objection at USI National Council in the Dublin Institute of Technology on November 9.

He said DrinkAware’s campaign to “drink responsibly” is not effective and it is a “normaliser” for drinking, he said.

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

“The Arthurs Day festival by Diageo further deepened our concerns regarding the credibility of Drinkaware’s alcohol awareness campaign,” Mr O'Connor said.

“There was a deafening silence from DrinkAware in terms of Arthur’s Day.”

DrinkAware.ie was set up in 2006 by the Moderate Enjoyment of Alcohol group, an industry-funded body.

“USI will develop a student alcohol awareness campaign independently through working with other bodies that are not funded by a self-regulating drinks industry,” a USI spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Meas/DrinkAware’s CEO Fionnuala Sheehan said: “We constantly review and research the effectiveness of our communications strategy.”

“For example, independent nationwide research conducted  by Millward Brown for us in January 2013 found that drinkaware.ie is perceived as the leading organisation promoting “drinking in moderation” and is significantly ahead of,  for example,  the HSE and its sponsored websites.”

“In addition, 85 per cent of over-18s are aware of drinkaware.ie.”

“Over 90pc of those aware of drinkaware.ie said this brand should be used more widely, while 81pc said “it is effective without pointing the finger”.”

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