A CONTROVERSIAL forum backed by Diageo, asking the people of Limerick to help change Ireland’s drinking culture, will be held in the city this evening.
Maureen Gaffney, psychologist and author, together with Barnardo’s chief executive Fergus Finlay and Dragon’s Den star Gavin Duffy, will be in Limerick this Thursday, March 19, to host a public workshop as part of the Campaign to Stop Out-of-Control Drinking, funded by Diageo.
However, to date over 300 individuals and organisations have signed an open letter opposing what they believe is a ‘smokescreen’ initiative, designed to distract attention away from Diageo’s “aggressive marketing and opposition to alcohol harm reduction policies”.
Signatories include the National Youth Council of Ireland, Youth Work Ireland, SpunOut.ie, comedian Des Bishop, Irish Rural Link, the Union of Students in Ireland, former GAA President Dr Mick Loftus, Róisín Shortall TD, folk singer Christy Moore and Wexford football captain Ciarán Lyng.
The letter of opposition, which people are invited to sign, states: “We believe this campaign is the latest attempt by the alcohol industry in Ireland to appear socially responsible about alcohol consumption on one hand, while continuing to obstruct progressive alcohol harm reduction strategies, including a ban on alcohol sponsorship in sport.”
Those behind the event said the workshop will explore how cultural perceptions and attitudes influence Ireland’s relationship with alcohol, as well as inviting the public to join in a national debate around the motivations and causes of out of-control drinking.
“As a psychologist, I have spent years looking at how attitudes and cultural influences impact our personal choices.
“Taking the time to recognise what underlying factors might influence our relationship with alcohol is an important first step to creating positive change. We then need to look at what roles we can all play as individuals, organisations and the government and ensure that the impact we have is a positive one,” said Ms Gaffney.
Gavin Duffy said that public workshops are critical for the success of the campaign.
“We want to have a truly national debate and that means taking everyone’s views on board. We aren’t going to solve the problem unless we have the wider community’s involvement and support,” Mr Duffy said.
The Limerick workshop will be held from 6.30pm to 8pm at the Clarion Hotel, Steamboat Quay.
To book your place email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or to date your name to the letter in opposing this event see www.irishdrinklink.com