Minister joins in criticism of Diageo’s Arthur’s Day

The Minister of State with Responsibility for Alcohol and Drugs Alex White TD is the latest person to wade in on the criticism of the upcoming Arthur’s Day.

The event is due to take place this Thursday, 26 September.

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The Minister has called it “a pseudo national holiday” invented by drinks giant Diageo to market its products, particularly to young people, and voiced his concerns about a 30pc increase in ambulance call-outs during last year’s Arthur’s Day.

“There is a serious problem, not only with the amount of alcohol we drink, but also with the harmful patterns in which it is consumed,” he said.

“It seems to me that Diageo has invented Arthur’s Day as a pseudo national holiday for the purposes of marketing its products – especially to young people – thereby stimulating greater consumption of alcohol.”

Others that have blasted the now annual occasion include Suzanne Costello, chief executive of Alcohol Action Ireland; and Dr Stephen Stewart, director of the Liver Disease Centre in the Mater Hospital.

Singer-songwriter Christy Moore even wrote a song condemning it, in which he referred to it as “Arthur’s alcoholiday”, while actor Gabriel Byrne and writer Marian Keyes have also come out against it.

Meanwhile, Diageo defended the celebration and said Guinness was showcasing emerging Irish music talent by offering them a stage at over 500 music events.

It also stressed it had implemented a responsible drinking awareness campaign around Arthur’s Day and gave clear advice to pubs creating their own events.

It said it was encouraging all 500 participating pubs to give our free water and food at the larger ticketed venues.

In an interview on Newstalk, Diageo’s European corporate relations director Peter O’Brien said he’d be happy to spend the evening in an A&E department this Thursday, which is Arthur’s Day.

“The reality is, people make choices, and some people choose to over-drink, and they end up in A&E. And every person who ends up in A&E is a bad thing. But you can’t lay that at the store of publicans or individual companies like ourselves.”

According to O’Brien, Arthur’s Day brings together three things – the brand of Guinness, the pub, which is an iconic part of Irish culture, and music – and the vast majority of people would enjoy all three things responsibly.