Mayo TD John O’Mahony this week said that he hoped that the Alchol Misuse Strategy that was published by the Government will help to tackle the unhealthy relationship that exists with alcohol and cut down on binge drinking. The second term Deputy said, “Alcohol abuse has had a pervasive effect on Irish society for decades. We can no longer afford to shrug off our bad habits as some sort of Irish-ism. While this new alcohol strategy is far from a panacea, it is a very positive first step on the road towards improving and moderating our relationship with alcohol.”
The proposal to set a minimum price for alcohol is something he welcomed, and he hoped that it will help to change the way people think about and treat alcohol. He also welcomed proposals to limit advertising of alcohol as way to reduce the exposure that young people get to drink, and stop association of alcohol with particular activities.
He also said there were positive health benefits to come from such changes, “At a time when we continue to face extremely difficult budgetary decisions in relation to our health service, it is only right that we tackle head on a problem which is costing us €1.2 billion a year. At least 2,000 beds are being taken up in Irish hospitals every night due to alcohol-related problems, and alcohol is considered to be a contributory factor in half of all suicides and self-harm attempts. And it’s not just our health services which suffer; alcohol-related crime also costs in the region of €1.2 billion a year.”
He concluded, “This strategy is, in my view, a first step. We must constantly monitor our progress in this area, and for that reason I am glad that an annual progress report is to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. We need to bring about a generational shift in drinking habits. By reducing the rate at which young people are exposed to alcohol advertising, we can gradually rebalance our attitude to drink, so that future generations can make safer, more sensible, and healthier decisions about how they consume alcohol.”