Measures Needed To Address Alcohol Epidemic

arthurs-dayThe Royal College of Physicians Ireland (RCPI) have launched a scathing attack on Arthur’s Day, organised by Diageo, latter to supposedly celebrate the anniversary of the Guinness brewing company.

To this end RCPI have organised a public discussion aimed at highlighting the dangerous side of alcohol and to further underscore their concerns that alcohol related illnesses in Ireland have now reached epidemic proportions.

Dr Stephen Stewart a Liver Disease Specialist, together with Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr Bobby Smyth will speak at this event tomorrow evening, with the Chairperson of the RCPI’s policy group on alcohol, Professor Frank Murray opening the meeting.

The RCPI claim that deaths relating to cirrhosis of the liver have doubled between 1994 and 2008, and that hospital admissions for alcoholic liver disease has almost doubled between 1995 and 2007. The RCPI also claim that increasing numbers of young people are dying from alcohol related illnesses due to alcohol substances being more affordable than ever, being more acceptable than ever and being more available than ever. (A pint of Guinness in Dublin is €0.70 cheaper than in Thurles.)

The RCPI debate will take place at 6:00pm tomorrow Monday, at the college’s headquarters on Kildare Street, Dublin, and will wave the banner “Join the National Conversation on Alcohol: Who’s calling the shots.

Diageo is not aware yet, but Guinness porter of course was first accidentally conceived in the early to mid 1700’s at the Palace of Archbishop Price, here in Cashel, Co Tipperary, now known as the Cashel Palace Hotel. Estate manager and Arthur’s father, Richard Guinness, was in charge of supervising the brewing of beer for the estates employees on the Archbishop Price estate. Supplying beer to employees at that time was considered part of their weekly entitlement.  A servant was dispatched from the estate to purchase and convey the necessary beer making materials from Ryan’s brewery stores here in Main Street, Thurles, latter now known as Cathedral Street. (Time for Urban Councillors to erect another Memorial Plaque in St Mary’s Graveyard perhaps.)

In the brewing process, later back in Cashel, some of these ingredients, barley possibly, was accidentally over heated in error, in fact roasted until virtually black, thus giving that unique burnt flavour known to us today as porters ale or Guinness porter and described by the then Archbishop as being “a brew of a very palatable nature.”

It is not too long ago in Ireland that pregnant women were told to drink a glass of Guinness every day to fortify themselves and their baby. Indeed US scientists in the state of Wisconsinin in 2011 gave Guinness to dogs who had narrowed arteries. They found that Guinness worked as well as aspirin in preventing clots forming. They believe that antioxidant compounds in Guinness are responsible for these health benefits because they decrease harmful cholesterol gathering on artery walls. But then what do I know?

Still this National Conversation on Alcohol could now lead to the start of Fine Gael and Labour’s promised two year Dáil Reforms, with Mr Enda Kenny closing the Dáil Bar instead of the Senate. (Possible new Logo for those opposed to Irish Senate closure. “Close The Bar Not Our Senate.”)

(Just a thought, sure you never know, Mr Enda Kenny and Minister for Health Dr James Reilly could decide to lead by example, instead of their “Do as we say, not as we do,” current philosophy.)


3 comments to Measures Needed To Address Alcohol Epidemic

  • Michael

    TD’S should be breath tested when going in to work. If they are over a very low limit, send them home and no pay for that day. Imagine subsidising alcohol for TDs, and allowing a TD to drink during his working day. Is the country gone more stupid than I thought it was? No wonder we are where we are; In the septic tank.

  • Willie Collins

    1/3 of missed days at work are drink related.
    1 in 10 people in Ireland will need but necessarily not get treatment for a drink problem in their lifetime.

    It is good to see this subject being discussed. But will there be any action?

    For many years I have raised this issue with various politicians and they all agree it is a real problem but little has ever been put in place to effectively help families who are seriously effected by this problem.
    When Presidents and Royalty grace our shores what do we do.? Take them to a Pub…
    Ireland has a reputation as a country of yobs who cannot drink sensibly “pigs at a trough” as it was said to me recently by a visitor.

    Having worked with families who live with alcohol problems for many years, it is not long before “liver disease” appears. We need to intervene and offer help.
    Put a levy on the drinks industry to directly fund evidence based treatment.
    We need to offer families an opportunity to deal with this problem holistically.
    Yours sincerely

    Willie Collins
    Addiction Specialist

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