Call For National Alcohol Strategy To Be Brought To Cabinet

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Labour T.D. for Waterford and Vice Chair of the Health Committee , Ciara Conway is calling for the National Alcohol Strategy to be brought to cabinet so that the measures can be rolled out as soon as possible.

Speaking during a Dáil Topical issue debate on the role of alcohol in incidences of sexual violence Deputy Conway called for the National Alcohol Strategy to be rolled out without delay, and questioned the delay.

She said: “It’s no shock to anyone to say that we have a huge problem with alcohol in this country, and as we enter into the festive season, evidence of that will be showing up at waiting rooms and hospitals around the country, ” said Ciara Conway.

“The Rape Crises Network has warned this week that our refusal to tackle our binge drinking culture is contributing to acts of sexual violence.

“According to one statistic on the Alcohol Action Ireland alarmingly 76% of all rape defendants had been drinking at the time of the alleged offence, other alarming statistics show that 45 per cent of rape complainants and 40 per cent of suspects in Ireland had been binge drinking before the rape; Where alcohol consumption was known, nearly 90 per cent of defendants in rape trials had been binge drinking; and 10 per cent of all reported cases involved a complainant who was incapable of offering consent due to alcohol.

“Alcohol has been identified as a contributory factor in 97% of public order offenses as recorded under the Garda PULSE system. One in eleven people said that they or a family member were assaulted by someone under the influence of alcohol in the past year and almost half of the perpetrators of homicide were intoxicated when the crime was committed.

“The Rape Crises Network has conducted research, and it has found that drink not only plays a large part in sex assaults but also skews attitudes to both victims and perpetrators. Perversely victims who had been drinking are often assumed to bear more responsibility for their ordeal than sober victims – it seems we judge a victim if they’re drunk,as for the perpetrators – those who consumed alcohol are assumed to hold less responsibility than if they had been sober.These are worrying findings.

Last week, we had a raft of measures in the Budget, including an increase in the price of alcohol. Predictably the vintners federation weren’t happy, but this is a timely measure, as we come into the festive season, which for many people results in a more drinking.”