This week saw the age old debate of the Good Friday drinking ban once again in the news. Every year, we seem to examine the pros and cons of the ban. Some say it’s traditional and is only for one day. Others see it as continuing religious encroachment in an increasingly secular society.
There are, however, plans to lift the ban by 2018. The debate does indeed bring to light our relationship with alcohol in general which is linked intrinsically to our culture. But how does Ireland compare in terms of alcohol consumption with other countries in the European Union?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ireland ranks joint 10th with Luxembourg in the amount of alcohol we consume every year -an average of 11.9 litres of pure alcohol.
The figures show the average pure alcohol that each person consumes in the EU every year.
Ireland is behind nations such as Croatia (12.2 ltrs) and Latvia (12.3 ltrs) but we drink marginally more than the Germans (11.8 ltrs), the British (11.6 ltrs) and the French (11.4 ltrs) every year.
The biggest drinkers are Lithuanians (15.4 ltrs) followed by Romanians (14.4 ltrs), Hungarians (13.3 ltrs), the Czechs and Slovakians (both on 13 ltrs).
The countries who are least fond of a tipple are Italy (6.7 ltrs), Malta (7 ltrs), Sweden and Cyprus (both on 9ltrs), and the Netherlands (9.9 ltrs).
These figures show that Ireland is nowhere near the heaviest drinking nation in Europe. However, the number mask the real issue.
There is, though, a need to address our relationship with alcohol in Ireland and our culture of “pre-drinks” (or “prinks” as they are known in some circles). Unlike most of our European neighbors, there is an issue with binge drinking that should addressed, with the Irish topping the binge drinking rankings in Europe in 2014, according to alcoholireland.ie.
With or without the alcohol ban, our conversation surrounding alcohol and our relation to it, will surely continue.