Silent Voices

Silent Voices, an initiative of Alcohol Action Ireland, that seeks to highlight the harm caused by parental problem alcohol use and its impact across the lifespan.

The Silent Voices initiative was conceived by three individuals who experienced parental alcohol misuse growing up. The emotional trauma of this experience is significant and, for many complex reasons, is a situation very few people feel able to speak about.

Silent Voices aims to break the peculiarly Irish taboo on discussing the impact of harmful drinking on children. It aims to ensure the right supports are available to children today coping with parental alcohol misuse – and those adults dealing with the impact of a childhood trauma in later life.  

Honorary Patrons

We are honoured to have a number of Honorary Patrons who support the work of the Silent Voices initiative.


Fergal Keane OBE,

Journalist and author.

Ailbhe Smyth

Ailbhe Smyth is a long-time activist on feminist, LGBTQ and other social issues and was the founding head of Women’s Studies at UCD where she lectured for many years. She played a leading role in the Marriage Equality referendum campaign, and was co-director of the Together for Yes national campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment.


Currently, she is Chair of Women’s Aid and also of Ballyfermot STAR Addiction services. A board member of Age Action and of the Women’s Global Health Network Ireland, she is Patron of the Women’s Collective Ireland. In 2019 she was on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People. She was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Laws by the University of Galway and is a Freewoman of the City of Dublin.

What Needs To Be Done?

Growing up in a home with parental alcohol misuse has been recognised internationally as an adverse childhood experience (ACE) for over 20 years, and the physical and mental consequences of parental alcohol misuse have also been studied. 


Studies have found that there is a serious risk that parents with alcohol problems may neglect their children. Such neglect can have a negative impact on children’s emotional and physical development and education, and put them at risk of physical and sexual abuse. 


In Ireland, at least 1 in 6 young people live with the impacts of alcohol-related harms at home. That means that right now about 200,000 children in Ireland are living with the traumatic circumstances of a childhood where parental problem alcohol use is a frequent event. It is further estimated that there are around 400,000 people in Ireland today who are adult children from alcohol-impacted families.  


Given the large number of people affected across all sections of society, Alcohol Action Ireland is calling for government to act.


Read the Silent Voices manifesto here

Sign up for our newsletter & join our community