Friday 23 March 2018

Government plans to increase booze prices will drive many of us to drink

Low-cost alcohol could soon be a thing of the past
Low-cost alcohol could soon be a thing of the past
Michael Healy-Rae

Ireland is an eternally forgiving place for the greedy, the reckless and the utterly twisted. When a small number of gamblers lost the plot and broke the bank, blame was shifted to the general citizenry and every last one of us was forced to assume responsibility for the gambling debts.

Meanwhile, when the Government finally decided to tackle the problem drinking of a minority, ministers instinctively opted for a similar strategy of punishing the innocent. The proposed introduction of minimum-pricing for alcohol will substantially increase the cost of a bottle of wine or a can of beer for everybody, not just booze abusers. Paying the tab for the country's liquor-fuelled excesses is, evidently, a national obligation from which no-one can be exempted. We all partied.

The government measures designed to reduce alcohol consumption, announced last week by Health Minister Leo Varadkar, has received a predictably mixed response. Binge drinking and alcoholism are long-standing and deep-rooted issues in this country. Consequently, many of our countryfolk have grown accustomed - maybe even addicted - to the reassuring pleasures of endless argument about what ought to be done. When the authorities actually do something, many disputants react with the blinking outrage one encounters among afternoon drinkers in darkened pubs when a door opens and a blast of daylight intrudes on their cosily gloomy musings.

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