A DOCTOR has criticised Arthur's Day and other alcohol promotion events for endangering the nation's health.
Dr Stephen Stewart, director of the Liver Disease Centre at the Mater Hospital, said increasing numbers of young people are dying from alcohol-related illnesses.
He said: "There is an epidemic with deaths related to cirrhosis of the liver having doubled between 1994 and 2008.
"Alcohol is more acceptable than ever. Alcohol is more available than ever. We need measures to address this epidemic. Where does Arthur's Day fit into all of this?"
Dr Stewart said: "I regularly see patients in their 30s and 40s, and women in particular, with end-stage liver disease having never realised they have a drink problem."
"A binge drinker is a man who regularly drinks 10 units or more in a single session or a woman who drinks seven or more units in a single session."
He said "We have a progressively worsening relationship with alcohol in Ireland, which manifests itself in the increasing numbers of young people dying from alcohol-related illnesses. "
Professor Frank Murray, of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI), also hit out at Arthur's Day – September 26.
He said: "With high rates of alcohol consumption and binge drinking, we don't need another reason to drink."
In the run-up to Guinness's Arthur's Day event on Thursday, the RCPI will host a free public meeting at its headquarters in Dublin's Kildare Street tonight at 8pm on 'the dark side' of Ireland's relationship with drink entitled, Join The National Conversation On Alcohol; Who's Calling The Shots?
Dr Bobby Smyth, child and adolescent psychiatrist, will speak at the event about the impact of alcohol on the mental health of young people.
He said: "Young people who drink heavily feel more depressed and more anxious. You can't drown your sorrows, alcohol only teaches these sorrows how to swim.
"The majority of young men who take their own lives have a significant amount of alcohol taken at the time. That is not a coincidence."
The Arthur's Day festivities have also come under fire from a host of celebrities, including Christy Moore and Gabriel Bryne, who say it encourages the consumpiton of alcohol.