herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Booze is killing us, so why do we let pubs open for 363 days of the year?

Beer
Beer

The arrival of Good Friday last week brought the inevitable acres of media coverage, and online indignation, about the fact that pubs are forbidden to serve alcohol on the day.

There is perhaps no sadder evidence of our unhealthy, if not bizarre, obsession with pouring booze down our throats than the stream of complaints that surfaces because, for one of only two in the year, you can't get alcohol in a public bar.

And so we hear the usual heart-wrenching stories about tourists coming to Ireland, obviously for the sole reason of getting hammered, only to find that they are denied that human right for a full 24 hours.

whine

And we have the usual complaints from publicans who, not content with ever-lengthening opening hours, are asked to close their doors two days a year, as many other businesses in Ireland do for two days a week.

We also had the inevitable whine from the Restaurants Association of Ireland, talking about an archaic law that prevents people from enjoying alcohol with their meal, all the while seemingly oblivious to the obvious question: Why do we need to be drinking alcohol to be able to eat?

As the figures continue to grow in relation to alcohol-fuelled violence, crime and domestic abuse, not to mention the huge cost to the health service of dealing with alcohol abuse, perhaps we're missing the point.

Maybe the problem with Ireland isn't that drinking is forbidden on Good Friday. The problem is that drinking is allowed for far too many hours on far too many days.

So it was with impeccable timing that a small bar in Rathmullan, Co Donegal, hit the headlines last week after the man who ran it placed a sarcastic ad in the local newspaper following his decision to close down.

"I would like to take this time and personally thank the people of Rathmullan for supporting me in this venture over the last 18 months NOT!"

The businessman, William Flood, obviously felt the locals owed him a living by frequenting his bar.

He has now revealed himself to be strangely unaware of the rights of people to make their own choices, and the business realities of supply and demand.

sympathy

Ultimately, of course, it is perhaps a good sign that, in at least one small outpost of the country, the residents are saying no to alcohol, despite the inevitable consequences that such a stand will have on at least one local business.

Given this decision on the part of Rathmullan's good folk to lead a healthier lifestyle, it is hard to feel too much sympathy for Mr Flood, especially when one considers the headline of his particular advertisement. "Big Paddy's Bar has closed it's doors" - which features the blatant misappropriation of an apostrophe in "it's".

We may forgive William for being small-minded and bitter and feeling he's owed a living by his fellow townsmen.

But we certainly won't forgive him for being unable to spell.

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