A campaign aimed at stopping out-of-control drinking, which is funded by the drinks industry, has been slammed as a public relations exercise.
Cllr Niall McNelis claims the drive is a distraction tactic aimed at “diluting the issues, offsetting criticism and preventing real legislative reform”.
His comments come as a series of meetings are being organised in Galway to discuss the campaign.
The city councillor, who is a member of the Galway City Alcohol Forum, insists the campaign will gets the Government off the drinks industry’s back and allow it to foster a “socially responsible image”.
“What we need is the alcohol industry to take action to reduce alcohol-related harm in their role as developers, producers, distributors, marketers and sellers of alcoholic beverages as recommended by the WHO,” he says.
“However, what we see the alcohol industry do is the opposite, developing alcohol products that are sweet to entice young people, and people of all ages, into drinking and to drinking more, and also extensively and indiscriminately using online marketing platforms to
stimulate pro-drinking environments and attitudes.”
While debate and discussion is important he says the Galway City Alcohol Forum recommends that people do not attend the meetings taking place in Galway next week to discuss the campaign.
“Your attendance, even if you are opposed to the campaign, will likely be used as an endorsement by the organisers. If people want real change, support the Government to enact the Public Health (Alcohol ) Bill urgently so that dangerously cheap alcohol is eliminated, which is fuelling harmful drinking. On how to show your support for the Public Health (Alcohol ) Bill, visit www.galwayalcoholstrategy.ie
He added that there is a growing consensus about the need to address people’s relationship with alcohol.
“This is evident with the development and wide support for the Galway City Alcohol Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Alcohol-Related Harm. Based on research and experience from the World Health Organisation we know what works including restricting price, availability and marketing; random breath testing for drink driving; screening and brief advice for people who drink at hazardous/harmful levels.”
The Galway City Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Alcohol Related Harm was developed by the Galway Healthy
Forum comprising representatives from the HSE, Galway City Council, the Gardai, City of Galway VEC, Western Region Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, NUI, Galway, GMIT and Galway City Community Forum.