Kerry CoCo alcohol call is ‘another reason to move’

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The call by Kerry County Council (KCoCo) made earlier this year for a special derogation from the alcohol limit for rural drivers, including small-tractor drivers, was another reason to move the IMO AGM from Killarney, members were told.

From The Irish Medical Times

By Dara Gantly

Proposing a motion that the IMO condemns the decision by the Council to support the relaxation of legislation on alcohol and driving, Public Health Specialist Dr Declan Bedford said: “We come down here every year, and there have been calls in recent years ”” particularly in recent times ”” for us to move the AGM. I think seeking to make our roads unsafe and increase our tolerance of drink driving is also a reason why we should move our AGM.”

The measure, proposed by politician and publican Danny Healy-Rae, was put forward to address the decline of the ’pub culture’ and the isolation of rural life, particularly for older residents. Healy-Rae’s motion called on the Minister for Justice to allow the police the discretion to issue permits to people living in rural isolated areas to allow them to drive home from their nearest pub after having two or three drinks on little-used roads driving at very low speeds.

The move ”” which made the pages of the New York Times as recently as last month ”” was widely condemned throughout the country.

Dr Bedford added that Kerry was one of only eight counties where the risk of a serious injury on the roads increased between 2010 and 2011, the latest years for which statistics were available, so it was “not as if it’s a great place” for road safety.

The union also carried a motion calling on the Department of Health to work with counterparts in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland to introduce a minimum price structure for alcohol, based on grams of alcohol.

Public Health specialist Prof Joe Barry explained to members that the Scottish proposal was that a UK unit of alcohol should not be sold for less that 50 pence sterling, “so we are talking about 62.5 cent”.

Under such circumstances, depending on currency conversion, a pint or a double of spirits would not be sold for less than €1.27, he added. “So it really is getting at very, very cheap drink; it won’t affect the price of pub drink in any way.

“A minimum bottle of wine would be €4 at least ”” so it is really targeted at people for whom very, very cheap drink is attractive,” added Prof Barry, in reference to the very young drinker and those who are alcohol dependent ”” the two very vulnerable categories of drinkers in Ireland.