Government won't tackle drink problem, claims expert
on 17/07/2012 00:00:00
The head of the National Suicide Research Foundation also criticised Government inaction, asking why authorities have not been effective in tackling access to alcohol. Dr Ella Arensman said a report to be published today shows the strong links between suicide and alcohol. She said there was a need to reduce the number of outlets where people could buy alcohol, or include a warning on drink that excessive use could cause serious mental problems.
The broadsides come as the Cabinet today decides on an alcohol action plan submitted by drugs strategy minister Roisín Shortall.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney denied that there was any division in the Government over the new alcohol policy. He supported having a minimum price for alcohol but said sponsorship and advertising was "a different issue". "We will have a mature discussion and we will come up with a government position."
Ms Shortall yesterday threw down the gauntlet to her more senior colleagues, saying that if they were serious about tackling the alcohol problem, they had to sign up to the package. However, the junior health minister admitted there had been "some level of compromise" and that the action plan differed to the recommendations of an expert group which reported last February.
Mr Butler said two government departments dissented from the national substance misuse strategy steering group's recommendation to end alcohol sponsorship of sport and music events by 2016. He said Ms Shortall, as a junior minister, had "limited political power" when it came to persuading ministers to prioritise public health. "There is little reason to believe that in a time of financial crisis the Government will implement measures which are damaging to the drinks industry," he said.
Meanwhile, two groups working in the drugs area, Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign and the National Voluntary Drugs Sector, have called on the Government to "stop playing politics" with alcohol and drugs and support the action plan before the Cabinet today.