Politicians and drinks industry

 

Madam, - The photograph of the leaders of five of the State's political parties with a representative of MEAS (Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol) which you published in a recent edition (December 3rd) is a rather disturbing reminder of the influence of the alcohol industry in this country.

For your readers' information, MEAS is a social aspect organisation set up and funded by the alcohol industry in Ireland to manage issues that it considers to be detrimental to its interests.

Such organisations have been established by the industry within other countries, but not only that, the alcohol industry worldwide has established several supranational agencies to further its interests on a global scale.

The modus operandi of such organisations is clear cut.

In attempting to create the image of a business that is socially concerned, they set out to manage public debate on issues that are sensitive to the interests of the alcohol industry.

They defuse criticism of the industry by diverting public attention and controversy, in many instances by focusing on issues of secondary importance.

These organisations also ensure that the industry asserts its influence by securing representation on a wide range of national and international organisations concerned with the effects of the misuse of its products. Surely the leaders of our main political parties cannot be blind to the fact that an organisation like MEAS has one purpose and one purpose only - namely, to promote the agenda of the alcohol industry in this country.

In appearing together in a photograph such as that published by you on December 3rd, our leaders lend credibility to the beverage and alcohol industries in their efforts to project themselves as being socially responsible.

If it was sincere in addressing the problem of excessive drinking, the industry could curtail its massive promotion of alcohol over the coming holiday period.

Alas, what chance of that occurring in a political climate that allows the drinks industry a free hand to maximise its profits at whatever the cost to our country and its people? - Yours, etc.

(Dr) MICHAEL LOFTUS, Main Street, Crossmolina, Co Mayo.