Booz in the Nooz

GAA"Off the booze and on the ball" anti-booze campaign
The Gaelic Athletic Association has come out with a strong intiative to tackle the problem of drinking, following on from a Trinity college study which showed that amongst sports-people in Ireland "over 90% of players were current drinkers and almost one third (31%) reported drinking over the recommended limit of 21 standard drinks per week." 

The new initative asks all players to give up booze for January 2012.  GAA president, Criostóir Ó Cuana spoke to Irish Health saying that "January is a month of the year when the commencement of good habits comes into sharp focus and twinning a reduction in alcohol intake with increased physical activity makes perfect sense after the possible excesses of the festive season,"   Getting fit is the other part of the initiative.  All club members are being encouraged to undertake new exercises to help them reach their recommended weekly physical activity levels

Over 90 per cent of GAA members were shown to be drinkers and 54 per cent admitted to binge drinking in last years study by Trinity College.  A year later, the GAA’s President Christy Cooney has asked club players all over the country to abstain from alcohol for the month of January and, in doing so, to seek sponsorship to go towards their local club. 

But, as the Irish Times observes, "there is no sign yet of any blanket ban on alcohol sponsorship. Although it ended Guinness’s sole title sponsorship of the senior hurling championship which ran from 1995-2008, Guinness remains in the multi-tier sponsorship introduced in 2009 and currently co-sponsors the championship alongside Ethiad Airways and Centra under the Champions League-style arrangement".  Players who take the abstinence pledge will also be asked to act as drivers for those who don't - somebody has to keep the booze flowing then?


Is it art or is it Britain's shame?

Polish photographer Maciej Dakowicz's collection called Cardiff After Dark caused quite a stir at the International Festival of Photojournalism in France last month .  His photographic record of night life in his adopted home of Wales showed drunken scenes, particularly of women, that shocked the UK's Daily Mail.  As the Mail reported on 22nd September "the squalid snaps of barely dressed women striking crude poses or vomiting were depressingly familiar".

In October Laura Powell of the the Mail Online followed up with a visit to Cardiff to see for herself, asking the question "why do intelligent young women who are nurses, teachers and mothers drink themselves to oblivion every night across Britain?"  The answer lies somewhere in the following explanation:
'We only do embarrassing things when we're really drunk,' Naomi says. 'I kiss random men in the street and Hannah has had sex behind a chicken coop.' She screams with laughter as Hannah lurches unsteadily in the stairwell of Charleston Bar and Grill on Caroline Street (known locally as Chip Alley) and unashamedly urinates in front of us".
After a night with the revellers Powell observed that "a pattern emerges: first they tell me mindlessly 'it's fun'. Bolshie camaraderie quickly kicks in and, egged on by friends, they proudly share anecdotes of 'a drunken foursome', exhibitionist nudity and flashing their breasts for free drinks.  Later, an 18-year-old law student from North Wales who has just swallowed ten peach schnapps shots propositions the photographer".

Art critic Jonathan Jones of The Guardian  takes a different view. "The excess is not in alcohol but in Britain's self-loathing" he argues, preferring to focus on the art of the original photographs.
"Humour is the most obvious thing about Dakowicz's pictures, and their attraction lies in the way they balance grotesque abandon with poised, coolly beautiful lighting.  Shots that might just have been coarse snaps have a grace that makes them all the more comic....When you look at it twice, surely seems collaborative between photographer and subject, ...achieving an almost classical pose".
Is this the kind of thing he was thinking of?

See more Cardiff after Dark photos here and more of Maciej Dakowicz's work

Will the breathalyzers arrive in time, and will the 'pee-steam defence' still work?

Drink drivers may again have to resort to sniffing their own own urine to be exempt from prosecution by breathalyzer in Ireland.  More of that below.

A defendant takes advice from counsel

But what are the chances of being caught in the fist place ?  The government has been teasing us for months about the arrival (or not) of the new breathalysers which will make it possible for Gardai to enforce the newly enacted drink-drive legislation in Ireland.  If caught above the new 0.5mg limit the full force of a fine of 200 Euro will automatically follow (but no suspension or court appearance), provided that drivers are apprehended by a diminishing number of Gardai, and provided that the Gardai are actually equipped with and trained to use the necessary breathalyser equipment, and are paid the overtime to be out at night to catch the majority of offenders.  Little wonder so far that Ireland has Europe's worst (by seven times) drink driving record. 

National broadcaster RTE reported optimisticallyy this week that the breathalyzer equipment is 'due to become available in the coming weeks' at which point Minister Varadkar will 'then announce a date for the introduction of the new limits'.  Note though that only Garda stations who 'already have' breathalyzers will receive the new equipment - so the total number of devices nationally will remain exactly the same.   However 'a further 22 will be introduced thereafter'.  And if 'thereafter' seems a bit hasty to you, rest assured that 'only half of the 1,000 breathalyzers will be rolled out in time for the changeover' with the rest apparently being delivered 'within weeks'.  It's the justice equivalent of the cheque being in the post.

Bottom line is though that 'all Garda stations will have a minimum amount of breathalyzers to allow them to test for drink driving' - meaning one presumably.  Meanwhile Gardai are 'currently' being trained to use the equipment and say they 'will be fully trained in time' - in time for the non-arrival of the equipment presumably?  So that's a definite maybe.

The pee-steam defence explained

But motorists who do suffer the unlikely indignity of being breathalyzed can still take heart that they may be up before Judge James O'Connor who was mightily persuaded (twice) by the 'pee-steam defence' before him in Killorglin Court.  Basically, as reported in the Sunday Times, a drunk motorist may invalidate the results of a breathalyzer test by claiming to have inhaled the alcohol fumes from his own piss.  As the judge so wisely said in dismissing both cases, “Nil by mouth is the same as nil by nose. When he is urinating he is inhaling vaporised alcohol and there’s always steam off it.”  And who said judges don't know how ordinary people live?

So now if someone 'won't give you the steam off their piss on a frosty morning' you'll understand why.  There really isn't much more to say. The link is here if you want to see for yourself.