Sunday 19 November 2017

Cheap drink comes at a cost

Madam -- I was extremely surprised to read Michael McDowell's opinion piece on cafe bars and the failed discussion document of 2005 (Sunday Independent, January 12, 2014). Mr McDowell is right about one thing, the Irish pub is an iconic institution and an integral part of our international image. The pub is a vital tourist attraction and pubs throughout the country have experienced a very challenging number of years but the trade remains strong.

Mr McDowell is, however, completely incorrect to point the finger of blame for excessive and uncontrolled binge drinking at the door of publicans. The Irish pub is a very safe place to enjoy a responsible drink. This has been acknowledged by the Government and expert groups. The pub has been accepted by health experts as a far more controlled and regulated environment to enjoy a drink.

It has been the irresponsible sale and marketing of alcohol by supermarkets, engaged in the abhorrent practice of below-cost selling in order to drive footfall, that has radically changed our drinking culture and habits. This has been facilitated by the removal of the Groceries Order by the government of which Mr McDowell was a key member.

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