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« Government should protect us from the vested interests of tobacco control | Main | Government must intervene to save Irish pubs, says Forest Eireann »
Wednesday
May112011

Ireland's shame

Postscript to the previous post.

As well as sending press releases to the Irish media, Forest Eireann has been emailing a handful of Irish bloggers in an effort to generate some discussion of smoking online.

No joy. With the honourable exception of Grandad, whose brilliant Head Rambles blog is essential reading, we haven't found a single libertarian or smoker-friendly blog in the whole of Ireland. Not one.

Not even Twenty Major, a blog that is sub-titled, quite erroneously, 'Still smoking in Dublin bars'. Last year, reacting to a press release from Forest Eireann the author sniffed:

Like a few others I’ve just been spammed by a group called Forest Eireann. Their aim is to ‘Campaign against the denormalisation of smoking and the vilification of smokers by the tobacco control lobby’.

They have a spokesman called John Mallon from Cork. He says:

"I’m no radical but I believe in the citizen’s right to oppose those things that seek to marginalise them. The outcome of the smoking ban, now in its sixth year in Ireland, suggests that it has been counter-productive. Smoking rates have increased while one pub a day closes due to the effects of the ban."

Really? It’s the smoking ban that’s forcing pubs to close? Here was I thinking it was the fact that drinking in pubs is now ridiculously expensive. We’re fleeced for beers, spirits, soft drinks, the whole lot.

Regulations mean pubs can’t have ‘happy hours’ to bring in customers and very few pubs are doing anything to attract customers, like, you know, lowering the price of drink, which is why people go to pubs. Not to smoke.

I don't doubt that the price of drinks, and drink driving laws, have had a significant effect on Ireland's pubs. But let's get this straight. A blogger called Twenty Major, whose blog features the legend 'Still smoking in Dublin bars', claims that people go to pubs only to drink. Not to smoke.

Another Irish blogger, responding to our study which showed a clear correlation between the smoking ban and a rapid increase in pub closures in Ireland, complained that since the ban "smokers monopolise the outside tables at licensed premises, leaving us to having to stay inside on the nicest of summer days or put up with breathing in their noxious fumes".

Yesterday Forest Eireann received the most po-faced response from another blogger who claims to be a "political junkie" yet clearly has no interest in one of the most important political and cultural issues of our time.

Replying to our press release about the loss of 7,000 workers in the pub/drinks industry in Ireland in 2010, he wrote:

To whom it may concern,

Please remove me from your email list. I have not signed up for it and you do not advertise on the list a way of removing one's self from the email list which is a breach of the data protection act.

I love visiting Ireland, on business and on holiday. But can someone tell me why there is so little interest in defending, ahem, individual liberty or promoting the free market?

I can find no evidence of a single free market think tank. Nothing, certainly, on a par with the Adam Smith Institute or the Institute of Economic Affairs in Britain.

The Freedom Institute, a free-market classical-liberal think tank was founded in Ireland in 2003, but four years later it folded and its founder fled to England.

The Progressive Democrats, a liberal, free-market political party founded in 1985, was disbanded in 2009.

Ireland, it seems, is a graveyard for social and economic liberals. Why that is I have no idea, but it does explain the absence of any serious opposition to the smoking ban and the subsequent tobacco display ban.

PS. Having written this post I visited Twenty Major to see what he was writing about today. (Not smoking, obviously.) His last and, it appears, final post was on April 4 and the headline is 'Game over'.

For Twenty Major, perhaps, but not for us.

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Reader Comments (8)

Interesting use of the word 'fled' - as though he was hounded out of the country for 'free-thinking'.

Libertarians are a very small, if vociferous, minority even in England. Hardly known in Wales or Scotland or Ireland. Small countries with a sense of nationhood and a genuine 'all-in-this-together', caring about the collective good rather than the narrow-minded, selfish, arrogant 'don't interfere with my right to upset you' attitudes you promote. Fortunately your beliefs are confined to a very small, mostly south-eastern London-centric enclave. Unfortunately your beliefs are shared by some people in power at the moment.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 11:39 | Unregistered Commentersimon (nsc)

Very despairing to read the above, but living in Ireland I'm well aware of this mindset.
The majority of smokers in ireland scurry around like stray dogs afraid of a kick.
After the seismic change of life during the past decade of mass immigration and displacement brought about by a false economic boom the irish lost their sense of nationhood and 'all in this together' caring attitude for the collective good and the old ways like the attitude of 'rules were made to be broken' disappeared overnight.
And instead changed into an arrogant and selfish lot with a 'because I'm worth it' or 'dont interfer with my right to upset you' attitude, hoovering up all the spin and buzz words that the new politically correct money makers had to offer.
But now that the fantasy money and hype is all gone it seems the irish fighting spirit has gone with it.
We still smoke our fags as much as ever but only in the designated areas while agreeing with the politically correct that its bad for our health.
It seems that the legacy of this disastrous era was that the Irish want to show themselves as enlightened and educated.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 12:42 | Unregistered Commenterann

Ireland is another country, like Scotland and Australia, that I always wanted to visit but now never will. Neither can I understand why anyone else still does. Surely it's like being Jewish in the 1930s and going on holiday in Hitler's Germany.

I am not a masochist neither do I believe in spending my money where I am not welcome.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 16:08 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I've moaned about it before, but please Simon can you not put out something condemning the repeated references to Nazi Germany? Ethnic cleansing is simply not to be trivialised.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 10:20 | Unregistered Commentersimon (nsc)

Simon (nsc), I refer you to this blog post: A friend in need. My views are well known but others are entitled to their opinion. It's a free country.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 11:22 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

"Small countries with a sense of nationhood and a genuine 'all-in-this-together', caring about the collective good rather than the narrow-minded, selfish, arrogant 'don't interfere with my right to upset you' attitudes......................."

Missed out North Korea there, Simon.

It, too, suffers from a Hive Mentality.

By all means talk rot if you want to. But please don't attribute a selfish disregard of others' right to be 'smoke-free' either to FOREST or its supporters. That's wilful misrepresentation - and you know it !

Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 18:41 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Simon NSC
In this country smokers are not permitted a space inside any public building, we have to stand
outside in all weather that is treating people not much better than lepers. I understand entirely
why Pat Nurse is referring to Nazi Germany and I am sure she is not trying to trivialise ethnic cleansing. Jews were persecuted in Nazi Germany and smokers are persecuted in modern Britain
today, that is what she is describing. I feel that the analogy despite needing possible further explanation is entirely relevant.

Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 17:51 | Unregistered Commentermark

@mark I well understand what was meant, but is an over-the-top analogy that belittles the Holocaust.

Simon - your approach is consistent: 'I don't use Nazi references, but I defend the right of others to do so', with 'I'm not affected by a smoking ban (as I don't smoke) but I defend those who are'. Fair enough.

But (surely?) you can't take that line on everything. 'I don't engage in racist chanting at football matches, but I defend the rights of those who do'? 'I wouldn't send nail-bombs to Neil Lennon, but I defend the rights of those who do'? 'I don't wear a suicide vest but I defend the rights of those who do'? So where is the line where you think - 'no that's going too far'? Please don't tell me it's a question of whether what is said or done is against the law.

Genocide is absolutely nothing like being asked to refrain from lighting a cigarette. If you don't condemn such ignorant comment, then you condone it. It isn't a subject you can sit on the fence about.

Monday, May 16, 2011 at 0:59 | Unregistered Commentersimon (nsc)

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