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Hiking Booze Prices Shows No Bottle

by Jimmy Rhatigan

Cabinet to end sale of cheap alcohol.
The latter is the front page headline on the Sunday Independent.
And like every move that the Government makes it has a kind of laissez-faire feeling about it, with a little touch of dabbling.
Reason for our negativity is that our present trinity of FF, FG and Greens seldom do anything that doesn’t benefit themselves, i.e. garner votes.
Under the fancy name of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) the proposed scheme will increase the cost of cheap wine, beer and spirits within weeks, according to The Indo.
A leaked draft, a bit of irony about that one considering we are speaking about ale and porter, refers to plans to go ahead with minimum pricing under the Public Health Alcohol Act.
Cheers, good health could be the message from the Cabinet, obviously not a drinks’ cabinet.
Health would appear to be the main concern of our elected representatives who remind of research at the University of Sheffield that says minimum pricing would reduce alcohol-attributable deaths by almost 200 a year.
Other benefits it seems would be that hospital admissions would be reduced by 6,000 a year and by cutting down on porter because of hiked prices, criminals would not be as active.
That kind of thinking by any Cabinet, Cupboard or whatever smacks of naivety at its best.

Adults who believe that slapping a few cents or even a couple of Euros on to a favourite tipple will solve any drink problems, more than likely believe in the Tooth Fairy.
Acohol that is to cost more include gin, vodka and wine and a drink that is popular with those who enjoy a strong cider, Linden Village.
The hope is that the project will cut down on the slugging of cheap top shelf alcohol and even cheaper cans of lager that some would say would be rivals for turpentine.
We have to agree that helping people to dispense with their own bad and unhealthy habits is a good idea.
But, more and more we tend not to trust politicians. Their plan is not well thought out.
That a survey in England was used to underline the dangers of alcohol in the Republic of Ireland just may have some scratching their heads.
We simply don’t believe that humping up prices will put people off alcohol if they want it badly enough.

To believe that a one fit suits all is another error on the part of Government as while some may be put off by the fear of becoming ill from the cheap booze, or worse, a majority will carry on regardless.
Then there are those who may enjoy an odd drink in moderation and can truthfully afford only the less costly brands.

Why should the latter have to fork out for the sins of those who risk their health?
To hike prices across the board is akin to banning an All-Ireland Final crowd of circa 80,000 from ever eating scallions and beans again because someone broke wind on Hill 16.
Hiking prices in a bid to protect adults and young people from themselves seems like a futile project.
But there has to be a way to save young and not so young from the demon drink.
Lessons could start in the classrooms of Irish schools and continue with active public reminders of the harm that people can do to themselves by downing cheap alcohol.
Education and public campaigns, we believe can work wonders.
Rising prices is a cop out.
Classroom support in local schools and educational campaigns through the media may take a lot more effort but make a hell of a lot more sense.
Hitting people in their pockets, a lazy ploy by Government, will, in our view make not a bit of difference in trying to persuade people to cut back on or cut out cheap booze.
A combination of education and clever public relations has a much better chance of hitting the spot and shows much more ingenuity and bottle.
We’ll drink to that one.
And leave the cheap stuff to the MUPpets.
Summing up, this is a lazy propaganda exercise and an excuse for collecting more taxes.

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