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‘Hazardous’ drinking fears

According to a survey carried out by the Galway Healthy Cities Alcohol Forum, more than half of those questioned could be described as “hazardous drinkers”, with one in four also reporting “alcohol-related harm” as a result of someone else’s drinking.

The alcohol awareness study looked at the drinking habits of more than 500 people aged 18 years and older.

“The level of alcohol-related harm to individuals and to others is of particular concern with one in five (20 per cent) reporting one or more harms due to their own drinking, for example an accident, fight, problems in work, friendship, home-life; and one in four (25 per cent) of all respondents reported experiencing one or more harms as a result of someone else’s drinking - family problems (15 per cent) being the most common,” Fiona Donovan, Health Promotion and Improvement HSE explained.

Ms Donovan, who is also a member of the Alcohol Forum, said the report highlighted a worrying culture around underage drinking.

“Although adults consider underage drinking as the number one problem in Galway City, worryingly many believe that it’s acceptable to give alcohol to 15-17 year olds at home. The survey showed that 18 per cent of people think it is acceptable to give a child aged 15 alcohol at home and 44 per cent believe it is acceptable to give a child aged 16-17 alcohol at home.”


The issue of drinking was also raised at the Galway City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting on Monday, with Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley criticising the number of drink-driving incidents in the city.

In the first five months of this year, a total of 56 motorists were detected driving while over the legal alcohol limit in Galway, with Supt Curley describing the figure as “very high”.

“56 is a huge amount of drink drivers in the city. In the whole county, including the city, that averages out at over 30 a month which is very, very high” he said.

He said the Gardaí conducted 325 Mandatory Alcohol Test Checkpoints in the city between January and May this year, with 1,672 breath tests also performed.

“You’re talking about people at 10 o’clock in the morning, 12 o’clock in the day.

“There’s no hard luck stories. At times I have done readings and I’d say the blood must be nearly congealed, the readings are so high,” he added.

Speaking about the number of drink driving detections, Fine Gael councillor Peter Keane called for a zero-tolerance attitude to drink driving.

“56 incidents, while it’s no increase, that’s 56 too many in my view. I’d be interested to know how many of those were actually just over, or how many were twice over or three times over, because I think that a lot of people are chancing it when they have a drink and they’re apprehended for drink driving cases.

“It beholds us now as legislators to look at what they do in other jurisdictions and that is a zero-tolerance policy. Because if you have a zero-tolerance policy you won’t have 56 incidents. You might have five or you might have six but you certainly won’t have 56,” he said.

Chief Supt Curley also noted that while “young people are drinking and drinking excessively” it is not an issue unique to Galway. He said addressing the issue is a “work in progress”.

In the Galway Healthy Cities Alcohol Forum report, Ms Donovan also said it was “very positive” to note that 74 per cent of survey respondents were in favour of a ban on alcohol advertising that appeals to young people; with 62 per cent also agreeing that there should be a minimum price for alcohol below which it cannot be sold.

According to Ms Donovan evidence shows that the most effective policies to reduce alcohol-related harm include minimum pricing for alcohol, restricting its availability and reducing its promotion.

Galway Independent         29 June 2016