Irish drinking 5% heavier than last year

The figures from the revenue commissioners show that we are drinking 20% less than we were in 2001 - when Ireland was leading the world in alcohol consumption

Irish people are drinking more than they were a year ago according to the latest figures from the revenue commissioners.

The figures show that - as a whole - people in Ireland drank 5% more than they did in 2015.

The amount of alcohol Irish people drink has actually fallen by nearly 20% since the peak reached in 2001 – however, Conor Cullen from Alcohol Action Ireland said the long-term improvement needs to be kept in context:

“Our peak alcohol consumption on record was back in 2001 when we were at 14.3 litres of alcohol per capita,” he said.

“The figures for 2016 are a reduction of just over 19% on those and that is very positive.

“But we need to put it into perspective; that is in relation to the highest amount we ever drank -and at that stage we were leading the world in alcohol consumption.”

The latest figures show that Irish per capita alcohol consumption for 2016 was 11.46 litres of pure alcohol per person aged over 15-years-old - an increase of 4.8% from 2015, when it was 10.93 litres.

There were increases in consumption of all categories of alcohol – however spirits and cider took the lead:

  • Spirits (+8.9%)
  • Cider (+8.5%)
  • Wine (+6.2%)
  • Beer (+3.7%)

In addition, roughly a quarter of people in Ireland don't drink at all – something Mr Cullen said  makes the numbers all the more worrying for those who do drink.

Alcohol Action Ireland is calling on the Government to implement the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill without further delay. 

“These figures reflect the fact that we continue to consume high levels of alcohol in Ireland and, as a result, we continue to experience unacceptably high levels of alcohol harm,” said Mr Cullen. 

“In Ireland, the harmful effect of our high level of consumption is worsened by our unhealthy drinking patterns, particularly the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking.” 

He said harmful drinking has a huge impact on our nation’s physical and mental health causing the loss of three lives due to alcohol every day. 

He added that our drinking habits are also placing an unsustainable burden on the health service - due to a large number of serious alcohol-related illnesses and injuries.