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IN common with many others, I have long been an admirer of our former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his many achievements, not least his pivotal role in bringing peace to this island.
However, in all the media coverage of his last weeks in office, it was disappointing to note that his recent retirement celebration gave rise to several widely-published press photographs of him holding aloft his favourite beverage in his local Drumcondra watering hole.
While I would be the last to deny him his moment of celebration, such an image does little more than serve the interests of the Irish drinks industry at a time when hundreds of thousands of people in this country have serious alcohol-related problems or are directly affected by alcohol misuse.
Mr Ahern has always projected himself as a ‘man of the people’ and these images will help to perpetuate that image. However, it would be progress indeed if in the future our politicians, their public relations advisers and media personnel in general could recognise that in facilitating the publication of images such as these, they are reinforcing the deeply-rooted myth peddled so consistently by the Irish drinks industry that no social occasion is complete without alcohol.
Dr Michael Loftus
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