From the tenor of the questioning so far – and from comments made by the Minister of State at the Department of Health Roisín Shortall, together with the hue and cry now up-and-running over binge-drinking and alcohol abuse in general – the industry can expect a rough ride.
However when the hue and cry button is dialled down, certain facts remain, one being that alcohol consumption here has been declining over the past few years and now approaches the European norm.
As is stated again and again by members of the Commitee in this report, the vast majority of consumers are responsible drinkers for whom alcohol is no more than one facet to a multi-faceted social life. But alcohol’s not being germaine to one’s everyday existence exposes its Achilles Heel to the alcohol zealots who’d wish to subject all in society to their unsubstantiated panacea for the abuse of alcohol.
They’d not be happy unless taking a sledgehammer approach to society as a whole rather than countenance the Government tailoring a solution to the alcohol abuse issue using everything at it’s disposal — including experts from all sides of the problem.
Who says that there’s no such thing as a silver bullet which might involve one or two simple steps to realistically short-circuit the present travails with alcohol and society – beginning with compulsory Garda ID cards to combat underage alcohol sales and the re-introduction of the Groceries Order on alcohol only to counter rock-bottom retail prices, for example? Such effective, practical and implementable measures to address underage purchasing and the sale of cheap alcohol could go a long way to reducing the problem.
For in the absence of such simple steps it’s the zealots who’ll lead the day to just one result – a crackdown on society-at-large’s unrestricted freedom to purchase alcohol, another round of redundancies in the industry and closed pubs within and without the rural community, further weaking its very fabric.
Alas, having got their way, such blinkered zealotry will ultimately prove ineffective where it matters, leaving alcohol abuse very much unabated as a scourge and a destructive force on society.