- 15 May 03
Is Ireland really drowning in gargle? Is there no hope for the youth? and is ever more draconian legislation all we can do? Dermot Stokes sidesteps the hysteria to offer some sober reflection on the use and misuse of alcohol
Even if you’ve been living in a cave for the last year, you’ll have heard the furore over our drinkin’ and fightin’. It’s been relentless. Every dog in the street has an opinion, and well he might. He’s probably been savaged by sozzled sots some soggy, sordid Saturday night.
We’ve got problems. Trouble is, we can’t agree on what they are. Furthermore, we can’t agree on what to do about them. Official Ireland, comprising the health system, the justice system and the media, has one perspective. The drinks industry has another. Somewhere out there, the Ordinary Decent Drinkers of Ireland, or Oddies if you will, have their thoughts as well, but we rarely get to hear those.
But some things are agreed. Our average consumption of alcohol, however you measure it, has risen significantly over the last twenty years. The increase is more dramatic amongst young people, especially women. For example, while our 15-year old males are in fourth place in the European binge league, our 15-year old gals are up on top. Not only that, but Ireland is the only country in Europe where younger women binge as often and as heavily as do their male counterparts.