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Podcast series ‘Alcohol Uncovered’

Alcohol Uncovered is a podcast produced by Alcohol Action Ireland discussing issues relating to harm caused by alcohol and its industry
Our latest episode:

Protecting Children from Alcohol Advertising Online

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Online safety for children is a huge issue in our digital society and here at Alcohol Action Ireland we want to shine a light on how damaging digital advertising of harmful commodities, such as alcohol, can be. 

Currently in Ireland, through a new body called Coimisiún na Meán, we are developing new online safety rules for video sharing platform services, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok and others. Today, we hear how we should protect children and their rights in this digital era. 

Our expert guests are human rights lawyer and Online Safety Coordinator for the Children’s Rights Alliance, Noeline Blackwell, and director of the Center for Digital cultures and Societies at the University of Queensland, Associate Professor in the School of Communication and arts, Nicholas Carah. 


● How we can protect children from harmful advertising 

● Dark advertising of alcohol that targets children 

● The most important things for regulators to consider 

● Why we need to listen to the voices of young people 

● Taking pressure from parents and placing it on politicians  


Noeline Blackwell is a human rights lawyer who joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in November 2023 as Online Safety Co-ordinator. Prior to that, Noeline was CEO of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre for almost 8 years and was previously Director of FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centres. Noeline also spent a number of years in general practice, with a particular focus in immigration, refugee and family law. She has been a member of a number of statutory and NGO boards. She currently chairs the Independent Patient Safety Council and the Child Law Project. She was appointed as a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in 2023.
See Noeline Blackwell’s LinkedIn profile here

Nicholas Carah is Director of Digital Cultures & Societies in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Arts. He is an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, and a Chief Investigator on ARC Discovery and Linkage projects. In 2023 they are Deputy Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Nicholas’ research examines the algorithmic and participatory advertising model of digital media platforms, with a sustained focus on digital alcohol marketing. He is the author of Media and Society: Power, Platforms & Participation (2021), Brand Machines, Sensory Media and Calculative Culture (2016), Media and Society: production, content and participation (2015), Pop Brands: branding, popular music and young people (2010). And, co-editor of Digital Intimate Publics and Social Media (2018) and Conflict in My Outlook (2022). Nicholas has also been involved in research projects on alcohol-related harms and nightlife culture and the use of digital media in fostering cultural change in drinking culture. Nicholas is a Director and Deputy Chair of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.
Read more about Nicholas Carah here


Read our submission regarding Ireland’s online safety code.

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To find out more about Alcohol Action Ireland visit

Alcohol Availability Amplifies Abuse

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

New studies have shown a strong connection between alcohol and a rise in domestic abuse reports. With new legislation in Ireland seeking to liberalise alcohol opening hours and density of licensed premises, who is looking out for those impacted by domestic abuse?

Today we take a look at the dangers of increased trading hours and alcohol availability and ask are policy makers really staying true to their zero tolerance policy for domestic abuse, or are commercial influences winning over?

Our experts today are working tirelessly in research and policy to show the detrimental effects of alcohol availability, they are Dr. Frank Houghton of Technological University of Shannon, Limerick and Michala Kowalski, a PhD candidate at the Social Policy Research Centre studying the night-time alcohol policy ecosystem in New South Wales, Australia.


●       The risks of the sale of alcohol bill

●       Research on the night time economy and domestic violence report rates

●       Does profit trump people when it comes to alcohol policies?

●       Pushing for better recording of data and research

●       How domestic violence can be fueled by alcohol


Dr Frank Houghton, Technological University of the Shannon

Michala Kowalski is a Scientia PhD candidate at the Social Policy Research Centre, studying the night-time alcohol policy ecosystem in New South Wales


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To find out more about Alcohol Action Ireland visit


The government appears to have undercut an awful lot of these advances with this new sale of alcohol bill. My concern is there’s significant international evidence which clearly demonstrates that increased alcohol license, retail density inevitably increases violence, and also intimate partner violence or domestic violence. I am having huge trouble trying to marry these two conflicting approaches from government. – Dr. Frank Houghton

We also have the issue that the normalization. Alcohol is just a normal part of our society, it’s just the standard. And I think that’s hugely, hugely worrying. – Dr. Frank Houghton

We do see this strong connection between rates of family and domestic violence and alcohol availability. So I think it’s more about the frequency, and aggravating and exacerbating type of circumstance in the environment. The trading hours I was looking at was two hours, 29% reduction for two hours of late night drinking. Even that can have a really big difference. – Michala Kowalski


#alcohol #domesticviolence #ireland #domesticabuse #health

Commercial influence on alcohol consumption

We are exposed to alcohol advertising everyday, and unfortunately the main target audience is often those most vulnerable to alcohol harm.

Today we shed light on an important but overlooked issue – how the alcohol industry shapes our culture, policies and even our health. You’ll gain a new understanding of how marketing imbeds harmful norms and the shocking power that the industry has at policy making level.

Our guests today are Dr. Norah Campbell, lecturer in critical marketing at Trinity Business School, and Dr Nason Maani, lecturer in Inequalities and Global Health Policy at The University of Edinburgh, and co-author of The Commercial Determinants of Health.

End The Silence – Listening to children who experience parental problem alcohol use

In Ireland, an estimated 1 in 6 children under 15 years of age are living with parents who are regular risky drinkers. This can lead to social and emotional issues for vulnerable children. Today we hear the importance of giving these young people a voice, and what kind of support they actually want when they’re struggling.

Our experts are Newcastle University’s Dr Cassey Muir, whose recent doctoral research explored these support needs of children and young people and clinical psychologist with Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health in Ireland, Dr. Cian Aherne who works with young people using the Power Threat Meaning Framework.

Voices Of Recovery

Voices of Recovery (VoR) is an initiative of Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI). The initiative aims to bring together people with lived experience of problem alcohol use to champion recovery and spread the message that change is possible. 

In this episode, we speak to three long-term recovery advocates and members of Voices of Recovery, board member of Alcohol Action Ireland, Paddy Creedon, recovery centre worker, Val Ward and olympic medalist, psychotherapist and politician, Kenneth Egan. 

Growing Up with Parental Problem Alcohol Use

In this episode, Marion Rackard, psychotherapist, addiction counsellor and co-founder of Alcohol Action Ireland’s initiative Silent Voices & Mick Devine, Clinical Director with the Tabor Group  discuss the therapeutic considerations  when counselling adults impacted by parental problem alcohol use.
The production of this podcast was supported by funding from the Mental Health Grant Scheme for Community and Voluntary Groups.

Reform of alcohol licensing laws: a problem needing a solution or an opportunity to create different drinking occasions and further normalise alcohol use?

With the proposed ‘Sale of Alcohol Bill’ likely to be approved by government in the autumn, will greater availability of, and access to, alcohol into the early morning alleviate any pressing societal issue or merely extend commercial opportunity for alcohol producers, merchants and retailers? The expansion of the night time economy is desirable but should the reward for cultural expression be sustained through more alcohol profits and greater alcohol harm?

This podcast explores the consequences of licensing reform and the need to retain a focus on defined public health objectives.  The podcast features: Dr Helen McAvoy, Director of Policy, Institute for Public Health in Ireland, and Prof. Niamh Fitzgerald, Professor of Alcohol Policy at Institute of Social Marketing & Health, at University of Stirling, Scotland

The lure of alcohol marketing: is it nurturing a lifetime alcohol use?

This podcast explores the world of alcohol marketing: how effective are their campaigns, and who are the principal targets for their strategies and why self-regulation is not meaningful control. The podcast features: Dr Amanda Marie Atkinson, a Senior Researcher within the Public Health Institute, at Liverpool John Moores University; Dr Nathan Critchlow, a SSA academic fellow at the Institute for Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling, and Jennifer Haugh, Research and Policy Officer at Alcohol Action Ireland.

Harnessing our health data. If we don’t measure it, we can’t manage it.

The podcast features speakers from public health research and advocacy including Dr Zubair Kabir (UCC School of Public Health), Anne Doyle (Health Research Board) and Dr Lesley Graham and Ms Elinor Jayne, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).

This podcast and the research on the alcohol burden in Ireland as demonstrated by GBD data have been supported by the Irish Research Council under a New Foundations Grant.

Can Minimum unit pricing make a real difference to reducing alcohol harm?

In this episode, Eunan McKinney discusses with Alison Douglas of Alcohol Focus Scotland and Nic Taylor from Deakin University in Australia, the early indications from both Scotland and Northern Territory, AU, the effectiveness of this public health measure in addressing harmful alcohol use and reducing related harm.

This discussion is introduced by Minister Frank Feighan, TD, Minister for Public Health, who was instrumental in advancing the commencement of MUP in Ireland.

Special Edition: An insight into the trauma and complex impact of living with parental problem alcohol use.

Part One

In this episode Marion Rackard, co-founder of Alcohol Action Ireland’s initiative: Silent Voices, discusses the psychological implications of growing up with alcohol harm in the home with Stephanie Brown, PhD, licensed psychologist, researcher and author of Treating Adult Children of Alcoholics: A developmental Perspective.

This 2-part podcast is supported by the Irish Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists and Addiction Counsellors of Ireland. It is particularly suitable for therapists working in this area.

Part Two

Season 2 Episode Three

In this episode, Eunan McKinney discusses with Dr Denise MacCarthy and Dr Eleanor O’Sullivan, two women who over the last decade have been at the vanguard of raising public awareness about mouth cancers, about the real risk to alcohol users of attributable cancers, the work of Mouth Cancer Awareness Day and the importance of prevention and early detection.

Season 2 Episode Two

Season 2: Episode One

Episode Six: Progressive alcohol policy – gaining ground but how to win the war?
In this episode, Eunan McKinney discusses with Dr Matthew Lesch (University of York), Lauri Beekman (NORDan) and Dr Peter Rice (SHAAP), what were the major learnings from the advocacy experience in Ireland to advance progressive public health alcohol policy, and what interdependent strategies – coalition building; health messaging and political tactics – could be adopted, more widely, to ensure a transition from policy adoption to effective implementation.

Episode One: What is alcohol doing for our health?
In this episode, Eunan McKinney discusses with Prof. Frank Murray, former President of the RCPI and chair, Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland, Dr. John Ryan, Consultant Hepatologist and Dr. Bobby Smyth, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, a number of issues relating to how damaging alcohol can be to our physical and mental health – a brief ‘A to Z’ to understanding the specific issues and the impact on our health services and the wider society.
Episode Two: What is alcohol is doing to our children?
In this episode, Eunan McKinney discusses with Prof. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Professor in Health Promotion, NUI Galway, Dr Norah Campbell, Associate Professor in Marketing at Trinity Business School and Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland, a number of issues relating to children and alcohol: the experience children have with alcohol through their teenage years; consider how are our children recruited into alcohol use so young; what are the principal drivers behind this behaviour, and what is the impact of alcohol marketing in recruiting children to an alcohol lifestyle?
Episode Three: The bad economics of alcohol.
In this episode, Eunan McKinney discusses with Aveek Bhattacharya, Chief Economist at the Social Market Foundation (UK), and Professor Joe Barry, Adjunct Professor of Public Health Medicine at TCD, a number of issues relating to the economic impacts of our harmful alcohol use; what is the economic cost to a society that leaves such excessive use of alcohol unchecked; and what is the ‘untold’ story of the external harms from Others’ drinking.
Episode Four: The importance of global alcohol policy in tackling alcohol use.
In this episode, Eunan McKinney discusses with Carina Ferreira-Borges, Programme Manager, Alcohol and Illicit Drugs & Prison Health, WHO European Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases; Colin Angus, Senior Research Fellow, Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, University of Sheffield, and Prof. Karine Gallopel-Morvan, School of Public Health (Rennes, France); and Honorary Professor at the University of Stirling (Scotland), a number of issues relating to the development of progressive alcohol policy, the rational of the WHO’s policy “best buys’ for national implementation and the challenges that lie ahead for the next phase of global and regional strategies to reduce harmful use of alcohol.
Episode Five: Silent Voices – ending the silence on the impact of parental problem alcohol use.
In this episode, Eunan McKinney discusses with Carol Fawsitt, Marion Rackard and Barbara Whelan, the founders of ‘Silent Voices’ – an initiative by Alcohol Action Ireland – that aims to break a peculiarly Irish taboo on discussing the impact of harmful drinking on children. It explores their motivation to sustain this initiative, reflects on what has been achieved so far and examines what needs to be done by a variety of stakeholders to help improve the lives of 200,000 Irish children, and the adult children of today, who everyday live with the impact and consequences of this experience.