In a special report for the newspaper as part of The Irish Times Healthy Streets project outlets received a positive or negative score depending on what they contributed to a town, so pharmacies would achieve a positive score while a fast food restaurant would receive a minus score.
According to the Irish Times report, one of the issues debated by its expert panel was whether pubs should be considered a positive or a negative.
“Ultimately” it concluded, “because of the negative impact of alcohol in Irish society, the decision was taken to score them negatively.
“However, as professor of sociology at Maynooth University, Mary Corcoran points out, it is also true that many ‘suburban pubs are not just drinking establishments’. They can also be places where people get a hot meal and socialise,” states the report.
“Given that the expert panel convened by The Irish Times determined that social interaction was one of the crucial dimensions to people’s health that can be affected by high street outlets, it’s bizarre that pubs received a negative score,” said VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “Pubs are the very definition of a space that promotes social interaction.”
He added that according to the experts, pubs were scored negatively because “of the negative impact of alcohol in Irish society”.
He continued, “Pubs are so much more than venues that serve alcohol. Even the experts agree, with one doctor in the feature stating ‘I know a lot of older people who, if they didn’t have a pub, would go no place else’ while a professor of sociology says pubs are places where people can get a hot meal and socialise.
“Our pubs play a positive role in society so portraying them in such a negative fashion does a huge disservice to pubs and the communities they serve.
“It’s also worth pointing out most alcohol (60%) is purchased in supermarkets and outlets other than pubs, a fact the expert panel probably didn’t consider,” he concluded.