The Government claims its new minimum unit alcohol pricing, which it introduced last week much to the annoyance of many (me included), will ‘curb binge drinking’ by as much as ‘15 percent’. This move is apparently being aimed at Ireland’s ‘heaviest drinkers’, and comes as a result of The Public Health Alcohol Act (2018) – or as I call it, Big Brother’s cunning plan to control not just our alcohol consumption, but also our lives.
Seriously readers, do the over-paid individuals running this country not realise that rather than being a progressive measure, this new ‘floor price’ they’ve set is really a regressive one? It’s all very well for the likes of Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD and Minister for Public Health, Well Being and the National Drugs Strategy Frank Feighan TD saying they ‘welcome’ the move. The Government’s website even quotes Mr Feighan saying, “We are taking this action to ensure that cheap strong alcohol is not available to children and young people at ‘pocket money’ prices, and to help those who drink to harmful levels to reduce their intake”.
Normally, I’d pay attention to any local TD whose own website blurb tells browsers he was ‘appointed as Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin in July 2020’, believing they genuinely have our best interests at heart. However, as Mr Feighan is the same TD who disgracefully voted to downgrade emergency services at Roscommon hospital, then his opinions regarding alcohol – or anything else – are of no interest to me! But fair play to you on your comeback Frank, and while I don’t know you at all, I’m sure you’re probably a decent man at heart.
I still can’t take you seriously though, especially given the ‘pocket money’ part of your comment, which I believe to be both harmful and delusional. Why? Because rather than curb consumption and save lives, this Bill will most likely drive young drinkers to purchase cheap and illegal counterfeit alcohol from criminals peddling it out of the back of a van.
Consuming these products can pose a serious risk to people’s health and in some cases it can prove fatal, but hey Frank, I’m sure those ‘children and young people’ you’re so concerned about won’t think about that when they hand over their ‘pocket money’ to buy bootleg beer! Kind of pours cold water on your little scheme, doesn’t it Frank!
Look readers, I do know and understand that this country has had to endure the whole ‘drunken Irish’ label, and on some level (God help me), I do see Frank’s point. But here’s the thing: a recent Global Drug Survey (GDS) has found that it’s ‘Australians’ and not the Irish who ‘get drunk the most often’. I kid you not!
Using ‘an encrypted’ online platform to collect ‘anonymous’ data from some 32,000 people across the world, including 989 Irish people, the survey says that the average person living in Ireland only gets drunk ‘twenty times a year’, with ‘a quarter regretting it afterwards’.
So you see, we’re not really a nation of drunkards, rather we’re a nation of guilt-ridden, cash-strapped, taxpayers, fed up with over-paid Ministers (with egos bigger than their job titles), restricting our freedoms and making ill-thought out obfuscatory remarks around how we use our ‘pocket money’ to enjoy our downtime!
Why I disagree with the Pope!
According to global media reports, Pope Francis has suggested that having pets instead of having children is ‘a form of selfishness’ and ‘takes away our humanity’. Wow! As the mother of two humans and a litany of rescued four-legged fur-babies, I respectfully disagree with the Pope’s views.
In addition, I’d have to wonder why the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics thinks it’s okay to urge people to procreate, when he himself has chosen to remain celibate and childless? I mean, if His Holiness is so concerned about declining global birth rates, why doesn’t he allow priests and nuns to marry and raise families? After all, if the Pontiff believes ‘pet keeping is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood’, then it could be argued that so is taking a vow of celibacy. To that end, priests and nuns shouldn’t be denied the trials and tribulations of married life and parenthood. Just sayin’.
I’m someone who embarked on marriage and parenthood at a ridiculously young age. Therefore, following the birth of my second daughter, I decided my future lay less in dirty nappies and cracked nipples, but more in water bowls, chew toys, animal rescue, and pet adoption. My life, my choice.
I believe the Pope (who’s clearly an animal lover, given he chose the name Francis after St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals) should withdraw his remarks, or at least clarify what he meant by allegedly saying having pets ‘diminishes us’. I don’t wish to upset anyone or be disrespectful to the Holy Father, but as someone who has given up a lot – emotionally, physically and financially etc. – to help, rescue and adopt animals, I feel extremely vexed by these words.
While taking on the responsibility of my dogs has sometimes been tough, I can tell you hand on heart that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why? Because rather than ‘diminishing’ my life, my beautiful, loyal, loving, four-legged kids have greatly enhanced it. Not only did I rescue them – the munchkins have rescued me right back! My advice? Never, ever underestimate or under-value the power of an animal’s love and devotion.
Covid chaos facing our entire school system
While we all know the value of in-person classroom education, we also know that, given the rising Covid numbers, in-person learning presents many risks to our children. With that in mind, is it any wonder the hot topic of conversation among parents this week is, “Will I send them to school or will I keep them home?”
I don’t have any school-going children, but I do have a granddaughter doing her Junior Cert. Like other students, she’s being forced to sit in a freezing cold classroom with windows open wide enough to allow snow to fall through. I’m sure readers will be aware of the image doing the rounds, allegedly taken in a Dublin classroom, recording a shockingly low temperature of only 9 degrees. As someone who knows the legal temperature level for sedentary workers is 17.5 degrees, with the minimum being 16 degrees, I became very angry after hearing this, especially as it has been alleged that some children are not allowed to wear warm tracksuits instead of their uniforms.
Three Dublin parents told me that their child’s principal – not at my granddaughter’s school – actually stands at the gate, making sure students are wearing the correct uniform. This means checking to make sure students aren’t bulking up with leggings or tracksuits, or a coat other than the school gabardine to keep warm. If they did, the parents allege that the principal ‘confiscates the warm item of clothing,’ thus ‘forcing’ their children ‘to sit only in their uniform’… in a freezing classroom.
While the experience of these parents is simply a snapshot of the broader chaos facing the entire school system, with Covid infecting thousands on a daily basis, I can tell you that any principal who removed an item of warm clothing from a child/grandchild of mine wouldn’t be doing it a second time.