The report says Ireland has the fifth-highest consumption of alcohol per person in all 25 EU states, behind Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Hungary.Everyone knows Ireland has a bit of an alcohol problem, we drink too much. Fair cop, the researchers caught us, the worst kept secret in the world is out. For generations Irish society has revolved around the pub. Well the pub and the church, because you have to have some balance in your life.
Elsewhere, the Irish are identified as the biggest binge drinkers and the highest spenders on alcohol in the EU15.
These days the churches influence has declined to, at most, moral guidance instead of the legislative and social overlords they were for previous generations. I think the first signs of the pubs decline are now beginning to show as well. Pubs are being bought to be redeveloped as apartments. The bars are still full but publicans like to complain about the falling numbers of drinkers and falling profits. People want Cafe Bars and while the publicans have stopped them up to now one day they will make it through the Dail.
Ironically the decline in the pub as the center of Irish social life may well be linked to the second point raised by the report. We are the highest spenders on alcohol in the EU. That is probably as much related to the cost of alcohol in Ireland as the amount we consume. The EU may see the amount we spend on alcohol as a problem, but I see it as a long term good thing (though on a Friday night I tend to agree with the EU). If publicans keep putting their prices up people will just find alternative social outlets and hopefully drink less. Change comes slowly to Ireland, but it does come.