The World Reacts As Ireland Stays True To Drink Culture

img2The story about Councillors in Kerry wanting to allow elderly citizens to drive after a few drinks has been met with a slew of criticism. The motion was put forward by Danny Healy-Rae, who thinks that older people in rural Ireland are becoming increasingly isolated; his solution? Allow them to still frequent the local watering hole so they don’t miss out on social interaction, and let them drive home after a few pints.

Now … there are several things wrong with this. First of all (this could be construed as stereotypical – and I admit that it probably is) senior citizens are not often the greatest of drivers as it is. Adding alcohol to this situation seems like tempting fate. Secondly, there are other places for people to interact than at the pub. Why not pop over to each other’s houses for dinner or a cuppa? Thirdly, even if you insist on going to the pub … have you ever tried – and this might be a shock to the system – not drinking? Now don’t immediately cry uproar – but you can actually purchase non alcoholic drinks at a pub, such as tea or coffee. Who knew. Or perhaps you could rally a group together and take it in turns to be the designated driver?

So there you go Healy-Rae, there’s a few solutions. I understand that he’s only looking out for the well being of the elderly in rural Ireland, and I do commend him for that, but his proposal is ridiculous and completely unnecessary. If the local pub HAS to be the only possible place for social interaction, then there are ways around this without drinking. Allowing certain people a free pass for drink driving is unfair and dangerous.

As we understand it, this is only a proposal, and has a snowball’s chance in hell of ever actually being passed into law. But unfortunately the story has been picked up already, and once again Ireland is being laughed at across the world for being a nation of alcoholics. It is unfortunate really, as we actually have a remarkably low alcohol tolerance while driving – the limit it 50mg per 100ml of blood. It’s 80mg in the UK, and similar in the States. How low our tolerance level is to begin with though is not being explained properly, and now, judging by comments I’ve read from several articles on this topic posted outside of Ireland, we seem like we’re throwing our laws out the window altogether and allowing people to do as they please with regards to drink driving, because the Irish are “always drunk anyway, aren’t they?”

Here are some links to articles from outside sources…

Gawker, a US based website

“So the Irish needs more donated organs?”

The Star in the US–irish-county-passes-motion-to-let-certain-rural-drivers-drive-while-legally-drunk

“I can understand you may want to go to the pub to see other people and socialize, but you don’t have to drink … They do offer non alcoholic beverages. Or does that even occur to Irish folk?”

Daily Mail in the UK

“Only in Ireland would councillors who own pubs vote this in.”

So even though it’s highly unlikely this proposal will make it anywhere near becoming a law, the damage has been done already. Granted this probably will die down in a matter of days, as it’s hardly the biggest issue Ireland is being criticised for right now. However, it’s unfortunate that it had to be brought up, and that it made it across the globe in such a manner.

Karin Carthy

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