What sense does it make to stop me buying wine before 10.30am?

Tina Pisco writes about one of her pet peeves - licensing laws
What sense does it make to stop me buying wine before 10.30am?

Ireland’s licencing laws say that you can’t buy alcohol before 10.30am in the morning. It’s one of Tina’s pet peeves. Picture: Stock

IT was a lovely sunny day at 8am this morning. It looked like the first day of real summer had finally arrived, and so I decided to give my partner a lift to work.

I had a lot on my to-do list: writing this column, getting ready to go on holiday next week, and picking up a few goodies to bring to a barbecue this evening.

Feeling well pleased at being up and out of the house so early, I thought I’d pop into the shops while I was in town, therefore leaving the rest of the day for writing, sorting through my holiday clothes, and making dessert for tonight.

I’m lucky in that all the major chains in town open at 8:30am. I’d be in and out and back at my desk by 9am. A great way to start the day.

And then I remembered. Though I was free to pick up the fruit, cream, and meringues I planned to use to make a big bowl of Eton mess, I was forbidden to buy a bottle of Prosecco to go with it for another two hours.

We’ve all been there. For some reason you are out and about in the morning. Maybe you had to drive someone to the airport. Perhaps you decided to get to the gym early. You think to yourself - I’ll kill two birds with one stone and get the shopping done before I go home. Excellent.

So, you happily go around your local supermarket, feeling well pleased at your ability to plan ahead. You get to the check-out ready to race the woman at the till and fill your shopping bags as fast as she can scan your items. Everything is splendid until she picks up a bottle of wine, waves it at you, sighs, and sadly says: You can’t buy this. It’s not 10.30am yet.

At my local shop, the woman at the till is Eastern European and rolls her eyes at the folly of Irish licensing laws. I shake my head in exasperation and agree I can’t fathom them either.

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand. What sense does it make to stop me buying alcohol, over-priced as it is, before 10.30am?  What magical moment comes to pass after that? 

What evil inclination lurks until 10.30am that makes it too dangerous to sell me a bottle of wine before that hallowed time?

And don’t get me started on the cut-off for buying alcohol after 10pm. What is that about? Not everyone in this country lives in a city, with a handy pub within walking distance. Not to mention the price of a pint in a pub.

When I ask around, I tend to get mumbled answers that include the phrases “alcohol abuse”, “binge drinking”, and “anti-social behaviour” that disrupts the peace and quiet of residents living near off-licences. Really?

Am I being prevented from buying a bottle of wine before 10.30am because I’d be tempted to sit in the car park and guzzle it down before driving home, half-crocked? Is my desire to binge drink (which, by the way, I don’t understand either - I was raised in mainland Europe) only limited to the hours of 10pm to 10.30am? When people point out that I’m not the problem, I agree. I’m not, and neither are most of the adult sensible drinking population.

I’m not trying to minimise the problem of alcoholism in this country, nor the impact it has on individuals and their families. 

I’d just like someone to explain to me how the licensing laws, rather than education, prevention and accessible treatment for addiction, help to curb alcoholism.

As for anti-social behaviour, we already have measures in place to deal with that. There are currently over half a dozen laws that refer to alcohol related offences that carry fines and penalties. These include consuming drink within 100 metres of where it was bought (so much for binge drinking in the car park!) and acting disorderly and refusing to leave a licensed premise. In addition, there are also laws that make it an offence to be drunk and disorderly in public.

Bravo. How about we apply those laws? Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure that being arrested and waking up in the drunk tank to have a chat with a health care professional about your drinking is better than the ban on early morning shopping.

By the way- it’s up to a €5,000 fine if you serve drink to a person who is drunk, while being drunk and disorderly in public only incurs a fine of €500. What does that say about personal responsibility?

I’d have a lot more to say, but I’ve reached my allotted 800 words for this column, and besides, it’s now 10.45am and I’ve got to drive the 15km back into town to do my shopping…

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