UCDSU breaches responsible drinking code


The Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society (MEAS) lobby group has criticised UCD Students’ Union for promoting irresponsible drinking during the first week of term.

The group last week issued a press release in which it said that UCDSU failed to respect the MEAS Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.

MEAS were concerned that a widely-circulated SU email suggests “an association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour; an association with sexual success or prowess; [and encourages] illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as binge-drinking, drunkenness or drink-driving.”

The email, sent with the subject line “UCD Ents Presents Black Week”, was promoting events running from 7th-13th September, the first week of this semester. It encouraged a comprehensive drinking programme including “UCD Ents suggests… Breakfast Couch (Can of dutch/bottle of buckfast) LUNCH – Student bar, UCD (Fosters)…”

The email went on to anticipate a party in “some sh***y little place that sells booze after hours, drink till you puke …” There was also the suggestion that students would wake with “Regret/Hangover/Who the f*** is he/she?”
The press release issued by MEAS stated that the group’s Chief Executive, Fionnuala Sheehan, welcomed the increasing level of complaints being brought to her attention. She said “the vigilance of individual citizens is the most effective way of bringing irresponsible practices in the marketing and sale of alcohol to our attention”.

Mrs Sheehan told The University Observer that the role of her group is to “draw to the attention of the public the existence of the code and the facility to make complaints under the code.” She went on to say that “it is interesting to note that this…particular promotion breached the code on three different fronts. Certainly it was an example of, I think, how not to do it.”

Asked whether student groups were often found to be in breach of the code, Sheehan said that MEAS had received a number of complaints concerning students, “but we haven’t received what I would call an inordinate or overtly representational set of complaints from that quarter.”

UCDSU President Gary Redmond reportedly responded directly to the MEAS communication in a statement, which conceded that the email content was “inappropriate.” He also reassured the MEAS panel that “a review of procedures would take place to ensure that it would not happen again.”