Drink To Me Only With Thine Aye

stoutSlowly, slowly the issues that will ultimately persuade the Irish to vote yes in the next referendum on the EU reform treaty are coming to the surface. The latest suggestion is the right to at least one drink without falling foul of the drink drive alcohol limit. The EU is pushing for a consistent approach across all member states with a maximum alcohol level 0.5mg per millilitre of blood. Ultimately the EU want to reduce the limit to 0.2 mg, for certain categories of drivers, including new drivers, motorcyclists, lorry and bus drivers; it also wants every driver to be breathalysed at least once every three years.

Ireland has a big rural population and popping into a bar after work for a drink before heading home is a national habit. The proposed change would mean that the one drink would push them over the limit and risk a driving ban and large fine. Not something a nation where the bar shares place as the centre of the community along with the catholic church is too willing to accept.

Along with strict anti abortion laws, the independence of the army and the freedom to set their own tax rates the drink drive limits are very contentious issues and will have to be protected within the treaty if the Irish are going to vote yes. There are not easy issues and some are quite fundamental to the formation of a united Europe. Just how far the EU commission is willing to go to see its goal achieved by diluting its federal powers will be rather interesting.


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