WHAT has long been sought for many years came to pass this Easter holiday weekend with Irish pubs allowed to open on Good Friday. Some decided not to open and avail of one of the two days off that publicans have in the year – the other being Christmas Day – but the vast majority of the country’s pubs were open.
For the past 90 years, Good Friday pub closing has been part and parcel of Irish life, but in recent years, the demand for the law to be amended to allow them to open has – at last – led to the legislation to facilitate this. Now, people have the choice whether they wish to imbibe in a pub or not and those who wished to conscientiously uphold the Catholic Church tradition of fast and abstinence on Good Friday were free to continue this themselves.
From a tourism point of view, on the country’s longest holiday weekend of the year, the pubs being closed was an inconvenience to many of our visitors from abroad, especially in places like Dublin and the other cities as well as tourist areas. Good Friday opening proved a financial bonus for the pubs, and many restaurants also, who will see their weekend takings greatly boosted, although off-licences may have lost out as the trend in recent years had been for people to stock up with booze on Holy Thursday in case they might die of thirst the following day at home!
The opening of pubs on Good Friday means that there are more people out and about, and this feeds into the necessity for extra vigilance on our roads over the holiday weekend, which is likely to be a busy one, especially here in West Cork. As always, Gardaí are advising drivers and pedestrians in particular that any amount of alcohol can cause impairment; their advice being ‘if you are planning to head out, plan how you are getting home.’
Even though the number of deaths on Irish roads this year so far is down by about one-fifth on this time last year, there are still more than 30 families bereaved as a result of road traffic collisions and many others affected by resultant injuries also.
A report published recently by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) that examined the toxicology reports of those killed in road crashes in 2014, found that one third (33%) of drivers and motorcyclists that died had alcohol in their system at the time of their deaths. The examination, which was conducted by the Health Research Board as part of the National Drug Related Death Index, also found that 28% of pedestrians killed had a positive toxicology for alcohol.
Another thing to bear in mind is making arrangements also, if necessary, for the morning after, as RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdoch cautioned: ‘10% of fatal collisions where the driver had consumed alcohol, happen between 7am and 11am. It’s a real danger zone for drink driving. So drivers also need to be aware that they may not be safe to drive the morning after a night out.’