Ryanair has brushed off criticism that a "reckless" tweet posted by its social media team aimed at both Leaving Cert and A-Level students was promoting binge drinking among young people.
“To all #LeavingCert and #ALevel students: plan your dream summer holiday now so you have something to look forward to,” the tweet reads. It is accompanied by an image of a young man passed out on a beach beside an empty wine bottle and finishes with the closing thought that: “this could be you”.
Alcohol Action Ireland spokesman Eunan McKinney criticised the airline for posing the tweet which, he said, smacked of hypocrisy.
He expressed surprise that such promotional material would be endorsed by Ryanair in the same week it had called for measures to be taken at UK airports to curb excessive drinking.
Our social media team were merely reminiscing about their own first lads'/girls' trip away
In a statement released this week, the airline called “for significant changes to prohibit the sale of alcohol at [UK] airports, such as a two-drink limit per passenger, and no alcohol sales before 10am”.
“It’s incumbent on the airports to introduce these preventative measures to curb excessive drinking and the problems it creates, rather than allowing passengers to drink to excess before their flights,” a Ryanair spokesman said.
Mr McKinney lauded the airline for having “taken a very firm stance in supporting the health and safety of its own crew, who regrettably have to face the chaos from alcohol-fuelled passengers”, and he suggested the company “could be a little more mindful of not reinforcing the same behaviour in our youth”.
He pointed to “tragic incidences, both at home and abroad, in which some young people do engage in excessive alcohol consumption in and around exam times, and pay a very high price for such risky behaviour, including with their lives”.
He accused the airline of “reinforcing high-risk consumption of alcohol” among young people, who he said need “guidance, not reckless reinforcement of harmful social norms”.
There was also condemnation of the tweet from social media users, with some accusing Ryanair of being irresponsible while simultaneously “encouraging binge drinking AND beach littering?”
The airline rejected all criticism of the social media post. "Our social media team were merely reminiscing about their own first lads'/girls' trip away, and recalling all the wonderful sightseeing, sing-songs and cultural activities they enjoyed as teenagers," a spokesman told The Irish Times.