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Irish alcohol consumption 80% above global average, says Alcohol Action Ireland

Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) is calling on the Finance Minister to maintain the current excise duties on drink in its pre-budget submission today.

It says that Ireland's consumption of alcohol is 80% above the global average.

Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Sheila Gilheany says binge-drinking is causing all sorts of problems.

It says our 18 to 24-year-old age group continue to be Europe's number one binge drinkers.

According to the submission, Ireland's pattern of alcohol consumption continues to be measured at 11 litres of alcohol being consumed per capita annually.

"This persistent high level of harmful drinking equates to 41 litres of gin/vodka, 116 bottles of wine or 445 pints of beer per person aged 15+," the report states.

Speaking today, Sheila Gilheany said:"That very heavy level of drinking leads to a lot of harm both to the individuals themselves and also in a wider capacity," said Ms Gilheany.

"There is a lot of other harm to families and to children.

"One-in-six children are living in homes which we would call 'alcohol impacted' families.

"There is a big burden on the workplace as well."

According to AAI, approximately 60,000 young people under the age of 18 will start drinking every year.

"For people who start drinking early, even greater harm is done to them as individuals," said Ms Gilheany.

When we look at that level of harm, we would say that there are other measures that we would like to see introduced such as minimum unit pricing.

AAI said that excise duties on alcohol products have only changed three times since 2002 and has failed to keep up with the rate of inflation.

It renewed its calls for the establishment of a Social Responsibility Fund, saying: "Our proposals for establishing, and sustaining, a Social Responsibility fund demonstrate that there is ample means to source the necessary funding identified in the Slaintecare Report for a meaningful investment in primary care psychology services and the recruitment of additional psychologists at staff grade level and above, to meet the needs of both children and adults impacted by parental alcohol misuse.

"These funds have the capacity to transform chronically underfunded prevention and treatment activities.”

Speaking on the publication of its Pre-Budget statement, Alcohol Action’s Head of Communications, Eunan McKinney, said that minimum unit pricing for alcohol products must not be delayed any further.

"This policy instrument, designed to shape better public health outcomes and enacted last October 2018, is increasingly by framed by the alcohol industry commentary as a matter of economic folly," said Mr McKinney.

"This cannot be allowed to become the only yardstick for implementation."