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Cheerio cafe-bars...

6.13.2005

So brings to an end the saga of the café-bar. What a wonderful idea they might have been on their own as a cultural addition to the nation. However when it comes to the dubious logic of propagating café-bars as a cure for the Irish “binge-drinking” culture I am going to have to query whether McDowell was chasing headlines and a fight with the FF party’s favourite backer-the vintners.
The idea of café-bars, in the context of a drink problem, was that by normalising drinking habits and making booze available with food, one could promote responsible drinking behaviour and the more virtuous form of drinking found on some mythical idealised continent. AFAIK countries with café-bars like getting pissed too. However it is not precedent from which I draw my criticism of the plan, it is from the logic. McDowell’s brother Moore would have been some help in heading off this nasty impasse if he had informed Mick Mac that his was the wrong approach to solving a culture of over-indulgence.
By promoting the deregulation of licenses and/or café-bars McDowell was, in economic parlance, prompting a supply side solution to a demand side problem. The problem in Ireland, if indeed we agree that we have one, is not that people cannot get drink in a civilised establishment and environment. It is simply that there is a deep desire to drink as much as we can. Nowhere has it been proven that drinking in a café bar reduces the desire to get flamed. Indeed it is probably a perverse pleasure to get pee-eyed in the suave surrounds of Ireland's freshest trendy import.
The cause off the Irish problem is the demand present within the society. There is issues regarding supply but these are not going to cure demand, merely equalise the satisfaction of demand that is already present. The café-bar solution is a nonsense. It a nonsense made all the funnier by the fact it is being proposed by the economically “astute” PD party. Any solution to Irish drink culture must take account of the roe played by Brewers and other bodies in promoting the use of alcohol. High minded talk of opening a new avenue in our culture is arrogance. It’s no wonder FF rebelled because even those back benchers can see there is no benefit to a plan that could wipe out a lot of valuable vintner support and make little impact on the national desire to consume.
I’m glad that we are back to square one, McDowell’s solo runs are becoming tiresome and irksome. Cullen got it into his head that he was a man of great wisdom and ideas when he was merely a gonk. It looks like Mick Mac has the same notions but he is in the more dangerous position of being at the top of the Justice Department and the Gardai tree. McDowell needs to learn how to consult and how to do things of benefit to us not to his bloated and unrepresentative self image which is propagated in an adulatory media. Let’s get real, this guy is ineffective in his job, implicated in the worst cover ups of Garda corruption for a long time and certainly trying to pick fights with Human Rights groups over Asylum. Above all else he is a bully who sticks to his job by bullying people into carrying out his work. I’ve heard all the arguments before about how hard it is to be a popular reformer etc. his work is not reform, its more of the same with a more dangerously statist attitude attached.
This is the latest in a long line of bad calls, bad decisions and failed initiatives. He is quickly becoming the figurehead of an inept government and offering valuable cover for an equally dodgy FF party. Once we wake up and read behind his headlines we can see the man does more damage than good, one quick example;
If these café-bar licenses were implemented, your local chippie might apply for a license, in doing so no child would be allowed in there after nine o’clock. However we must believe he is making a positive difference to our law agenda. As I have said already, nonsense.
Red Rover

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