Irish Drinking Culture — Is It A Problem?

Many people get the misconception that when they arrive in Ireland, they will exit their plane or boat and instantly be handed a pint of Guinness where they will join the people in the street in a drunken merry party. It is no fact that Ireland is heavily associated with their love for alcohol, two of the biggest distributors being Guinness and Jameson. Here we will dig deeper into the facts and rumors of what makes up Ireland’s drinking habits.

Ireland has a rich history with alcohol and there is no denying that the people that make up the country also love their drinks. It is the main tourist revenue with loads of pubs, bars and clubs spread out around the country. The drinks are taxed heavily, ranking in the top three for highest percentage taxed for beer, wine and spirits in the EU.

The love for booze also comes with a price. It is estimated that 1.5 billion is spent in a year on alcohol related hospital discharges including about 1,500 hospital beds being occupied for alcohol related reasons. That is around 1 for every 10 that is spent in public healthcare in Ireland. Along with the health related aspects, drinking alcohol can also bring about crime in some users. According to the Garda Pulse System, alcohol was identified as the top contributed factor of 97% of public disputes. One in eleven people or approximately 318,000 people have claimed that they have been assaulted by someone under the influence of alcohol within the past year. Alcohol is also responsible for 88 deaths a month in Ireland, totaling up to over 1,000 deaths per year.

While it may seem that alcohol is ruining the great country of Ireland, the act of drinking is actually less common than other parts of Europe. For example there is a greater percentage of non drinkers in Ireland coming in at 23pc compared to other parts of Europe with countries like Finland, Germany, France and Italy all hovering around 10pc. When it comes to drinking everyday Ireland is again lower than the countries listed above coming in at 1.6 pc while Italy has a whopping 42 pc. That is just for drinking everyday though, when it comes to binge drinking Ireland is top dog with 48 pc claiming to binge drink once a week while Italy only had 11 pc.

The government also rakes in the benefits from all the sales of drinks day in and day out. For any restaurant, pub, retail store, or any place trying to sell alcohol they will have to purchase a 500 euro license from the government to be granted access to sell alcohol. Along with that these establishments also pay a tax that is added onto the price of all alcohol sold in their place of business. For example for every litre of alcohol in a spirit there is a tax of 42.57 taken out. That is 42.57 euros 2 and a half 1 litre bottles of 80 proof liquor.  

So with these statistics, why do the Irish continue to spend outrageous amounts of money on highly taxed alcoholic beverages. Well it is deep in their roots as a nation and as a community. In Ireland pub culture is to what pizza is to Italy, it’s what their none for. It gives the people a meeting place or a place they can catch up to discuss important events such as business family or nothing at all. So while it may seem that they are there for the drinks and music the people are actually there for the social atmosphere. After all Ireland is a very social and friendly country.

It may seem that alcohol brings crime violence and cost into the mix but I believe that is the price the drug brings to the equation. While there is a higher chance of these devilish events happening, it is just as likely such events will happen at any other part of the world. Alcohol also contributes to the social friendly atmosphere many people associate with when they think of the country. Ireland may have a problem with binge drinking and crime but does not stack up other countries on the frequency of having a drink.

Craig Marshall
Craig Marshall

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