About Me

My photo
Dublin, Ireland
Hi, I'm Dermot Nolan, and I became a Master of Wine (MW) in 1997, and resigned from the Institute of Masters of Wine in 2023 after being an MW for exactly 26 years. I opened a wine shop in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland, called The Wine Library, which closed in 2018, and this is my personal wine blog. I will do my utmost to be fair and responsible in my posts – please read my Who Pays article in re the ethics of wine trips and writing. I have worked in wine education, retail, and consultancy since 1990. I was a Director of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) from 2008 to 2014 and was also a member of the Events Committee, founder of the Trips Committee, and member of the Governance Committee. Having had problems with potentially libellous comments from unidentifiable posters, I now require that if you post a comment, you must identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do not review products or services on request so kindly don't ask. I value my independence and I believe my readers (few that they may be) do so also.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Let's keep Good Friday good!

To start, let me remind all my readers that this is my personal blog and represents my opinions only. I heard a part of an interview on Good Friday last between Mr Adrian Cummins of the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) and one of the lunchtime news presenters on RTÉ Radio 1. Mt Cummins was presenting a case for the removal of the ban on selling alcohol on Good Friday; when the presenter pointed out “You’ll make the money yesterday and tomorrow, won’t you?” 
Mr Cummins gave an odd reply (and I’m quoting from memory but I’m sure you can download the interview to check) “If you had visited any off-licence yesterday you’d have seen people stocking up on beer for house parties today. These are unregulated and we believe that we offer a better environment for drinking.”
Hmmm. Let me state that I do not believe that there any unanswerable grounds for the removal of the Good Friday ban but I was quite taken aback at this comment. It assumes for RAI members a great deal of responsibility. Apparently, they are the sole arbiters of who may drink and where they may drink. It assumes that drinking at home is some form of abomination and should be discouraged at all costs - "unregulated" was the word used. Hmmm – so does that mean that Tesco, Dunnes, Lidl and Aldi, for example, should not only be banned from selling on Good Friday but on all days of the year? Seems the logical thing to do since Mr Cummins assures us that drinking in restaurants is the only way to consume alcohol.
Perhaps he might respond by saying that’s not what he meant but it is the logical conclusion of that specific remark. Those of you who know debating will know the device reductio ad absurdam: if you can arrive logically at an absurd conclusion using your opponent’s arguments then your opponent’s premiss must itself be absurd.
I also heard on the Last Word on TodayFM a senator arguing the same point – her premiss was that since Easter is the second busiest retail period of the year then something is being lost due to the ban. I couldn’t quite follow her arguments but she was opposed by a member of the Pioneers, a group with which I share few values, whose argument was based on a set of consistent religious beliefs. His counter-argument had more logical weight than hers; it seemed she wanted us to be greedy and sell as much as we can every day of the year.
Why do I not support a lifting of the ban? I see no commercial benefit to it. In the shops in which I have worked over the years the Easter weekend is typically busier than previous weekends, even with one day missing. This year the Wicklow Wine Company (where I work) had an 18.47% increase in business on Holy Thursday and Easter Saturday over the previous Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Why MUST we sell alcohol every day? Tourists is the usual answer – well I have been to dry towns in dry counties in dry states in the US where you cannot buy alcohol at all, any day! Have I suffered immeasurable damage as a result? No! Will a French, German, American or any other tourist be unable to survive a day in Ireland without the soothing benefits of a pint of stout? Of course they will!
My boss has two small children and so Good Friday affords him a day with the kids which he might not otherwise have had; it also affords staff in pubs and off-licences a day of rest, which I am sure most appreciate greatly. Of course, any business is free to open on Good Friday so long as no alcohol is sold so all members of the RAI can open if they wish. Why the absolute need to sell alcohol? Is this the attitude of those who offer “regulated drinking” and who apparently have the nation’s health foremost in their minds? Hmmmm.

No comments: