Excessive alcohol consumption in Ireland places an enormous burden on people’s health, the healthcare system and our wider society.
As a healthcare organisation representing thousands of doctors on the frontline of health services, RCPI represented a patient-focused, independent voice in the national debate on alcohol.
An RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol was established in 2012 and was chaired by Professor Frank Murray, President of RCPI from 2014-2017, and a liver specialist in Beaumont Hospital.
Members of the RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol were doctors working in the Irish health system, many of whom were seeing increasing numbers of patients presenting with advanced alcoholic liver disease, cancer, head injuries and other alcohol-related illnesses and injuries.
Our doctors wanted to take action to prevent more lives being lost and destroyed, by reviewing the latest evidence and proposing practical ways to tackle harmful alcohol consumption.
RCPI established the Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland with Alcohol Action Ireland in March 2015 with the aim of:
The alliance was Ireland's first coalition of healthcare organisations, charities and alcohol health campaigners which came together to highlight harms caused by alcohol and to support the (then) Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.
Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland was chaired by Prof Frank Murray, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland from 2014-2017
Prof Frank Murray was also chair of the RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol and a liver specialist at Beaumont Hospital.
The initiative came to a successful conclusion in November 2018, after the Public Health Alcohol Act had been enacted.
The Public Health (Alcohol) Act was signed into law on 17th October 2018. The Act contains a range of evidence-based measures that target the pricing, availability and marketing of alcohol products – factors that are known to have the greatest impact on harmful drinking. More information on the Act is available here.
"Our College has advocated for this important legislation that can help to ease the frontline pressures on the health service. We know that there are 3 deaths per day due to alcohol use in Ireland that affects too many families and communities. Our unhealthy relationship with alcohol as a society is also putting an unsustainable burden on our health system, with up of 1,500 beds in hospitals taken up every night due to alcohol use, at a time when our health system is struggling to cope."
Professor Mary HorganPresident, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Social customs and economic interests should not blind us to the fact that alcohol is a toxic substance. It can harm nearly every organ and every system in our bodies.
High levels of alcohol consumption and binge drinking cause serious health problems, ranging from alcoholic liver disease to increased risk of cancer.
Alcohol is unlike other retail products and can give you much more than a hangover - its use is linked to seven types of cancer, including breast cancer in women and bowel cancer. Even small amounts of alcohol are associated with an increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer.
88 deaths every month in Ireland are directly attributable to alcohol.
It is a factor in suicides, road traffic accidents and drownings.
"The alcohol industry has no role in the formulation of alcohol policies, which must be protected from distortion by commercial or vested interests."
World Health Organisation Director General, Dr Margaret ChanCommenting in the British Medical Journal, 11 April 2013
For information on our policy work on alcohol contact: