National student body pulls support from 'Drink Aware' group

National student body pulls support from 'Drink Aware' group
O'Connor: 'drink responsibly is still promoting them to drink.'

The Union of Students in Ireland has pulled its support for the 'Drink Aware' campaign.

The group said it has a problem with it being funded by the drinks industry and its "muted" response to the controversy surrounding this year's Arthur's Day celebrations.

Drink Aware has hit back saying its never hidden the fact it receives money from alcohol companies.

USI President Joe O'Connor said the decision was made a recent meeting of student bodies from across the country:

"Certainly, it was felt that the campaigns were ineffective, and in many cases, counter-productive.

"Drink Aware, being funded by the drinks industry, we saw their deafening silence on the Arthur's Day festivities - and it was our feeling that any campaign which promotes [drinking] among amongst vulnerable students and young people.

"To drink responsibly is still promoting them to drink, regardless of the caveat or the qualifier that's added."

The group defended itself against the criticism, saying: “MEAS/drinkaware.ie is an alcohol social responsibility organisation, not an alcohol prohibition body, established to tackle problems arising from the abuse/misuse of alcohol.

“MEAS/drinkaware.ie does not encourage anyone to drink (indeed it advises there are circumstances where people should not drink alcohol), but we seek to address the realities of alcohol in Irish society as they have developed over time.”

“We constantly review and research the effectiveness of our communications strategy. For example, independent nationwide research conducted by Millward Brown for us in January 2013 found that drinkaware.ie is perceived as the leading organisation promoting “drinking in moderation” and is significantly ahead of, for example, the HSE and its sponsored websites.

“Over 90% of those aware of drinkaware.ie said this brand should be used more widely, while 81% said “it is effective without pointing the finger”.

“This would seem to suggest that separate from any opinion that some USI officers may currently hold, very many individual students see the value of the work being undertaken by MEAS/drinkaware.ie, and we are hopeful they will continue to do so.”


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