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Booze Hikes: No Blessing From Fr Jack

by Jimmy Rhatigan

GOVERNMENT’S decision to hike the prices of what once was ‘cheap alcohol’ has been met with what we might loosely call a cocktail of mixed feelings.

Ale, stout, lager and spirits that were practically given away in supermarkets, convenience stores and off licences now cost what we might call an arm and a leg.

Good cheer was the cry at Yule.

January had barely found its feet when, in the name of good health and saving lives, the cost of a can or bottle of your fancy rocketed, with the blessing of our politicians.

Straw polls tell us that a high percentage of those asked for their views about the price hikes opted for the status quo.

Naturally, having a hike of up to 50%, and even more in some cases, slapped on what were once alcoholic bargains did not spark any celebrations.

It would appear that making prices next door to prohibitive for some, or possibly many, was the object to save porter heads and spirit sharks from themselves.


Dr Ina Kelly, President of the Irish Medical Organisation has said that the project will save lives.

That certainly makes it a noble and worthwhile plan.

But, some will argue, while the aim is fantastic, the idea just may not hit the spot.

For instance, those who go overboard gargling and in many cases do irreparable harm to their health may not be put off by what they may consider to be exorbitant prices. 

Akin to unfortunate souls who get addicted to illicit drugs, the belief is that those who are used to regular drinking will find the money somewhere to pay for their habits.

So, instead of targeting those who may have a sad relationship with alcohol, all drinkers, including those who practice moderation, are battered with the same hammer.

It would appear to be a case of cracking a nut with a sledgehammer.

Cans of Arthur Guinness have always been popular with those who didn’t have to splash a lot of cash for their home gargle.

One could purchase a slab of 24 cans for €20 or even less in more recent times.


The same slab will now cost at least €40 so those behind the scheme to promote sensible drinking will not necessarily achieve even moderation.

Inference from those raising the prices of cheap drink is that those who may over indulge will kick the can just because it hits them harder in their pockets.

Not a hope.

The effort to curb unhealthy drinking is, we suggest bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Early life education highlighting the evils of the demon drink may have shielded thousands from a life of addiction.

The irony is that the price hikes will deprive the sensible social drinker, perhaps elderly folk living alone, of their weekend treat.

Sadly, those who cannot do without will carry on regardless.

In our country, those in high command tend to think that hiking prices will work wonders.

We have the very same problem with those who battle to save our environment seemingly believing that cranking up prices, gas, electricity etc, will do the trick.


All the latter will do is to lead to cold homes for the aged and ill.

God forbid if people of vision were to come along to steer us to life without persistent persecution from overpaid dolts we call politicians.

Any committee or designated group that came up with raising prices as a solution to irresponsible drinking must definitely have had representatives on the body that set out to design a horse but ended up with a camel.

Fr Jack of Fr Ted fame would tell them where to shove their hikes.

If only the powers that be would consider possible consequences that might result from their well-intentioned but possibly bird-brained ideas.

For instance, in somewhat similar circumstances in the past, booze buses brought hundreds of our people on regular trips to purchase cheap drink in Northern Ireland.

Was it all aboard to Jonesboro?

What do Kilkenny Press readers think?

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