Responsible serving of alcohol essential

  • Deborah Condon

All bar staff should receive training in the responsible sale and serving of alcohol without delay, Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) has said.

The national charity for alcohol-related issues made its call following the acquittal of two bar staff who had been accused of the manslaughter of an Englishman in a Tipperary hotel.

Bar manager, Gary Wright (34), along with barman, Aidan Dalton (28), had denied unlawfully killing father of two, Graham Parish (26), at the Hayes Hotel in Thurles in July 2008.

Mr Parish had been celebrating his 26th birthday and had already consumed a large amount of alcohol when he was then served a pint glass containing eight shots. He subsequently died of alcohol poisoning. The State alleged that the two bar staff were guilty of gross negligence in allowing Mr Parish to be served the pint of shots.

However yesterday, at Nenagh Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Tom Teehan directed the jury of six men and six women to find both men not guilty of Mr Parish's manslaughter. He said that this was due to the issue of personal responsibility - Mr Parish had decided to drink the pint and this was a supervening event that broke the chain of causation in relation to Mr Wright and Mr Dalton.

According to AAI director, Fiona Ryan, the selling and serving of alcohol ‘brings with it a particular set of responsibilities'.

"Standardised responsible serving of alcohol (RSA) programmes need to be made mandatory for all those whose work involves selling and serving alcohol without delay. The participation of all staff and licence holders in RSA programmes needs to become a condition attached to the granting and renewal of licences to sell alcohol," she said.

She highlighted the dangers of binge drinking and noted that alcohol is a factor in one in four traumatic brain injuries, while more than one in four of those attending A&E departments have alcohol related injuries.

"Unfortunately, Ireland is one of those countries where binge drinking is not the exception but the norm. In 2010, according to the latest provisional figures, the average Irish person aged 15 years and over drank 11.9 litres of pure alcohol, which is the equivalent of about 44 bottles of vodka, 470 pints or 124 bottles of wine.

"Over half of all Irish drinkers drink in a way that damages their health - that's four in 10 women and seven in 10 men who drink. It's time to get real about how much we drink and the way we drink," Ms Ryan added.


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