Fall in number of pubs met with rise in off-licences

Fall In Number Of Pubs Met With Rise In Off-Licences
Data from the Health Research Board shows Ireland still has the third-highest in the world in terms of the number of pubs per person. Photo: PA Images
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Muireann Duffy

Three in four Irish people live within walking distance of a premises licenced to sell alcohol, a new study shows.

The Health Research Board (HRB) found that despite a decline in the number of pubs in the country, Ireland has the third-highest number of pubs per person.


The research also revealed that the reduction in pubs in recent years has been offset by an increase in the number of off-licences.

In addition, Ireland ranked eighth out of 30 countries for the proportion of household income spent on alcohol.

Research officer and the report's lead author Anne Doyle noted this study marks the first time the HRB has assessed the availability of alcohol around the country.

"Using geospatial analysis, we also found there is a greater density of licenced premises in deprived communities.


"This is significant because evidence shows that people in deprived areas are more likely to experience alcohol-related harms, despite consumption being lower or equal to affluent areas," she added.

The research also found the average annual alcohol consumption of people in Ireland aged 15 and over last year was 9.9 litres of pure alcohol, equivalent to 37 70cl bottles of vodka.

However, researchers also found that the number of people who do not drink at all has increased, rising from 25 per cent in 2018 to 30 per cent in 2022.


In terms of impact, alcohol was attributed as the eighth leading cause of death in the State.


The HRB highlighted that one person dies each day in Ireland due to alcohol-related liver disease, and more than one third of road fatalities had been drinking prior to the incident.

The board added that alcohol remains the substance for which the greatest number of people seek treatment in Ireland.

The HRB also drew on Garda figures, noted there were 5,527 incidents of drink-driving and 9,917 incidents of drunkenness recorded on the Garda Pulse system in 2022.

"The increase in the number of people choosing not to drink and the decline in consumption per capita is positive," HRB chief executive Dr Mairéad O'Driscoll said.

"However, the way many people drink is harmful which is reflected in alcohol-related hospitalisations and deaths, as well as high numbers of people receiving treatment for problem alcohol use."

Dr O'Driscoll added: "The recent implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act will require time to take effect.

"By continuing to monitor trends over time, the HRB can review the impact of new legislation and inform policy responses that continue to reduce harm and support recovery".

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