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Nation sleepwalking through a public order and health catastrophe

Fine Gael TD for Cork East and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Justice Committee, David Stanton, has called for urgent action to curtail the availability of ultra-cheap alcohol.

“Outlets that use alcohol as loss leader by making it available at a very low price are acting very irresponsibly and are doing terrible damage to our society.

“Alcohol is a controlled substance and its availability should be limited in a much tighter way. By allowing the sale of alcohol at ridiculously low prices in supermarkets and in many other outlets society is facilitating, encouraging and supporting the uncontrolled and widespread consumption of alcohol.

“Abuse of alcohol is causing lethal, long term, damage to people’s health and the impact on public order is unquantifiable.

“As a society we have been talking around the issue for long enough. We need to take immediate action to increase controls on the sale of alcohol. If we cannot, for legal reasons, immediately prevent alcohol being sold at dangerously low prices we should take every possible measure to curtail the availability and attractiveness of cheap alcohol.

“The advertising of special offers and promotions of cheap alcohol should be banned as soon as possible. Alcohol should be segregated in separate areas away from everyday products such as groceries. Policies should be devised to tilt the balance back toward the controlled environment of the public house and away from the ‘no limits’ culture that has developed. Bartenders should be highly trained and be aware of their responsibilities regarding the consumption of alcohol. We must put in place and enforce consequences for being drunk and disorderly that will have a real impact.

“I intend to ask my colleagues on the Justice Committee to consider the impact of the abuse of alcohol on public order and to press Government to take whatever action is possible to curtail the availability of cheap drink.

“It is not just the State that has a role here. All elements of society have a part to play. We must make it ‘uncool’ to binge drink. At the same time we must recognise that alcohol is part of life and that prohibition has never worked. Underage drinking and binge drinking among younger people are directly linked to the easy availability of cheap alcohol and this is where we must make an immediate start.”